Fipronil scandal hits Czech Republic

Contaminated egg yolks were processed into baked goods

Veterinary officials have found the first egg products in the Czech Republic contaminated with the insecticide Fipronil. Czech eggs sold in Slovakia also tested positive for the chemical.

As a result, Czech health authorities on Wednesday put in more stringent measures for testing eggs imported from other EU countries. Previously just eggs from Belgium were tested. Egg materials cannot be sold until the results prove they are safe.

Plzeň-based Zeelandia, a supplier of bakers and confectioners, brought the contaminated egg derivatives from Germany and supplied them to more than 130 customers. According to Czech State Veterinary Inspection (SVS), in total there should be over seven tons of affected egg yolks and processed egg material imported from Germany. The remnants are now being withdrawn from the market.

On Aug. 3, some 7,200 kilograms of pasteurized whole eggs or egg yolks were taken by Zeelandia. The German supplier later announced it had found Fipronil, which was measured in the lab at four times the permissible amount.

Fipronil is used to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks on pets such as dogs. It is banned in the EU for use on animals intended for human consumption, such as chickens.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies Fipronil as “moderately toxic” if eaten in large quantities. It can have dangerous effects on the kidneys, liver and thyroid glands, according to a BBC report.

The Dutch food standards agency NVWA says it can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and epileptic seizures, but its effects are reversible.

An adult must eat 15 eggs to get symptoms, but for a baby it is just three eggs.

The scandal with eggs containing the insecticide broke in early August starting in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, resulting in millions of eggs being destroyed in a dozen countries. It has since spread further across Europe.

According to the SVS, the company distributed the egg material to entities such as hotels, restaurants, bakeries, pastry shops and cafeterias.

All of the egg material in question has already been processed into food products. The products using the eggs began to be removed from shelves last week. The products must be returned to Germany or destroyed in the Czech Republic.

SVS officials praised Zeelandia for responding quickly to the information about contamination. Since Aug. 10, when the first news of problems with eggs came to light, Zeelandia has been actively cooperating with the regional veterinary administration, according to a company representative.

Regional veterinary administration officials are now checking to see if any contaminated food remains in the processing plants.

On Wednesday, the Slovak State Veterinary and Food Administration (SVPS) announced the presence of Fipronil in boiled peeled eggs made in the Czech Republic. The name of the producer has not been disclosed. Levels were also 4 times the accepted limit.

Fipronil has been detected in eggs in 40 countries, including 24 out of 28 EU member states. An EU spokesperson said Lithuania, Portugal, Cyprus and Croatia are the only EU member states that have not yet influenced the scandal.

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