Belgium admits it knew about insecticide-contaminated Dutch eggs back in June

German supermarket chain removes eggs from shelves amid pesticide scare

Supermarkets in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have removed potentially contaminated eggs. It said that the Dutch disinfectant that is at fault was used in relatively few German farms, and they were closed and checked at the end of July.

Today it emerged, Belgian authorities have admitted they began investigating pesticide contamination in eggs in early June - several weeks before the public was made aware of a food safety scare affecting several European countries.

Christian Schmidt, the German agriculture minister, will tomorrow call his Belgian counterpart Denis Ducarme to demand an explanation for the failure of Belgium to inform other countries that there was a public health problem.

Eggs from another 59 farms contained high enough levels of the insecticide for the food authority to warn against any children eating them.

The Netherlands exports some 5 billion eggs to neighboring Germany each year, said Hennie de Haan, chairwoman of the Dutch union of poultry farmers.

Fipronil is commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice, and ticks. It is not permitted for use on food-producing animals (livestock).

Belgian authorities did not report the first cases of fipronil until July 20, according to the European Commission.

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"What I can say is that the farms are identified, the eggs are blocked, the contaminated eggs are traced and withdrawn from the market, and the situation is under control".

"All the eggs of these 14 kinds have been sent back to the depot and destroyed", company spokeswoman Els van Dijk told AFP.

"As there have been reports from more and more (German) federal states about the discovery of fipronil in eggs, Aldi South and Aldi North have chose to remove all eggs from sale across the country", the two operators of Aldi supermarkets said in a joint statement.

The information was not shared because of a fraud investigation, a spokeswoman for Belgium's food safety agency said.

Dutch authorities have since carried out checks on almost 200 farms and found that only one farm's eggs contained so much Fipronil that they constituted an "acute" health risk and should not be eaten.

In large quantities, the insecticide is considered to be "moderately hazardous" according to the World Health Organization, and can affect people's kidneys, liver, and thyroid glands.

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