Luxembourg not affected by widespread contaminated eggs
Luxembourg has not been affected by the widespread distribution of illegally contaminated eggs that led to product recalls in supermarkets from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Authorities confirmed on Friday that no contaminated eggs had been delivered to the Grand Duchy, neither had local poultry farmers used the Fipronil contaminated cleaning product in their egg production, the government said in a statement.
Based on current investigations, none of the closed down farms in the Netherlands had delivered eggs to Luxembourg, nor had the three German egg producers that tested positive for the insecticide -- 0-DE-0360521, 1-DE-0357731, 1-DE-0358001.
Luxembourg authorities responsible for food safety and consumer protection are monitoring the situation closely and cooperating with the Dutch authorities.
The egg contamination has been caused by a product used for the disinfection of poultry houses to which a Belgian company had illegally added Fipronil -- an insecticide commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks.
However, Fipronil is not authorised to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as poultry.
In large quantities, the insecticide is considered to be "moderately hazardous" by the World Health Organization and can have dangerous effects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.
Dutch officials closed down 180 businesses earlier in the week, and after tests, the Dutch food authority (NVWA) said 138 poultry farms -- about a fifth of those in the country -- would remain closed.
One batch of eggs posed in particular "an acute danger to public health", the authority said.
Eggs from another 59 farms contained high enough levels of Fipronil for the food authority to warn against any children eating them.
Belgian officials admit keeping quiet about 'tainted' eggs probe
Belgian officials admitted on Saturday they knew in early June there was a potential problem over insecticide-contaminated eggs but kept it secret because of an ongoing fraud investigation.
"We knew since early June there was potentially a problem with Fipronil in the poultry sector," Katrien Stragier, a spokeswoman for Belgium's food safety agency (AFSCA), told Flemish television VRT.
"We immediately launched an investigation and we also informed the prosecutor because it was a matter of possible fraud," she added.
"From that point on the secrecy of the inquiry took precedent. We understand that people have questions about public health and we are trying to answer them," she added.
Contacted by AFP over the past few days, the prosecutor in Antwerp handling the case refused to give out any information on the specific orders of the investigating judge.
Belgian supermarkets have cleared eggs from the shelves as a precautionary measure while awaiting the results of tests.
In Germany and the Netherlands several million eggs from Dutch farms have already been recalled.
German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt pressed the authorities, particularly in Belgium and the Netherlands, to clear up the situation.
"Someone has clearly proceeded with criminal intent to contaminate (the eggs) with a banned product," Schmidt told the daily Bild.
Aldi pulls Dutch eggs in Germany as scare widens
Discount supermarket giant Aldi said on Friday it was pulling all Dutch eggs from its shelves in Germany over an insecticide scandal that has spread to food stores across Europe.
Aldi said it was making the move "purely as a precaution", but acknowledged it could lead to "market shortages" for eggs in Europe's top economy.
Authorities in Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden also said they were tracking shipments and removing eggs, as the impact of the affair widened.
Aldi pulled all of the Dutch eggs after it emerged that at least three million tainted with a toxic insecticide had made their way to Germany and been sold.
However a regional agriculture minister, Christian Meyer of Lower Saxony, told ZDF public television it was now believed 10 million contaminated eggs might have reached Germany.
On Friday, authorities suspected the substance, Fipronil, was introduced to poultry farms by a Dutch business named Chickfriend that was brought in to treat red lice, a nasty parasite in chickens.
In Belgium, the Colruyt supermarket said it had removed eggs from two suppliers in July, whose farms were suspected by safety monitors of being contaminated with insecticide.
The country's food safety agency (AFSCA) said it had seized eggs before they reached the shelves and deployed "field agents to verify that the necessary measures at the farms are applied".
Eggs were also withdrawn by supermarkets in Switzerland, but the authorities who approved the recall urged people not to panic.
"The quantities observed so far do not endanger the health of consumers," said the Swiss food safety authority (OSAV).
Sweden's food safety agency said one batch of contaminated eggs had been delivered to a small wholesaler.
The European Commission is following the case very closely, as issues of public health are at stake, said spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen.
With losses expected to run into millions of euros, it is another blow for Dutch poultry farmers after 190,000 ducks were culled in November amid a highly infectious strain of bird flu.
Marieke van der Molen, spokeswoman for the Dutch public prosecutor's office, said a criminal investigation had been opened to determine the source of the contamination.
Belgium's federal food chain security agency (AFSCA) has also launched a criminal probe in cooperation with prosecutors.
(Reporting by AFP and Wort Staff)