minister blames Dutch for delays in egg safety scare
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[August 09, 2017] BRUSSELS
(Reuters) - Belgian officials waited a month for information from Dutch
counterparts after finding traces of an insecticide in eggs, Belgium's
farm minister said on Wednesday, adding that the Netherlands had known
about contamination since last November.
Contamination with the insecticide fipronil has led retailers in
several European countries to pull millions of eggs from supermarket
shelves, as the scare over its potentially harmful consequences to
Belgium's food safety regulator has drawn criticism both at home and
abroad after it said it was informed about a first case of fipronil
contamination in Belgium in early June but only notified the
European Commission in late July.
Dutch and Belgian authorities have traced the source of the
insecticide to a supplier of cleaning products in the Netherlands,
but agriculture minister Denis Ducarme blamed the Dutch for not
speeding up the investigation.
The Netherlands only provided information on its investigation to
Belgium in July, a month after Belgium requested it, he said
"One month! One month, without having any information from the Dutch
agency," Ducarme told a parliamentary hearing in Brussels.
"If a country like the Netherlands, one of the biggest exporters of
eggs in the world, does not exchange information, that is a real
issue," he added.
Ducarme said an internal document from the Dutch regulator showed
the Dutch had been aware of fipronil in eggs since November 2016.
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The Dutch Economic Affairs Ministry referred questions to the
country's Food Authority. Phones and emails to the Food Authority
Millions of hens may need to be culled in the Netherlands after
traces of fipronil were found in eggs, a Dutch farming group has
Fipronil is a popular insecticide to treat pets for fleas and ticks
but it is banned from use in the food chain because it may cause
organ damage in humans if large quantities are ingested.
Germany's agriculture minister said on Tuesday that the
contamination of millions of eggs with the potentially harmful
insecticide was "criminal".
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; additional reporting by Toby
Sterling in Amsterdam; Editing by Adrian Croft)
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