Sandwiches and salads made from eggs contaminated with the toxin Fipronil have been withdrawn from UK supermarket shelves, as Scotland’s food standards watchdog revealed that 30 times more contaminated eggs have been imported into Britain than previously believed.
Food Standards Scotland said that it is likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK from affected farms is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 reported earlier this week and warned that some products using the contaminated eggs were still within sell-by date and are only now being withdrawn from shops.
Millions of eggs have been recalled in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany after they were found to contain the toxic insecticide which can cause damage to the liver, thyroid glands and kidneys if ingested in large amounts. Fipronil is an insecticide used for getting rid of fleas, ticks and lice on animals, but should not be used around animals which are for food consumption.
FSS said testing of eggs in Scotland was “under way” and that results would be published “as soon as possible”, although it said that there was no evidence that eggs laid in Scotland are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in Scotland.
Pre-prepared products affected include sandwiches and salads from Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda.
The announcement came as Belgian authorities admitted test results revealed a level of the chemical in eggs that would pose a risk to human health.
A spokesman for FSS said: “Although some of the products such as sandwich fillings or other chilled products made from these eggs had a short shelf life and will have already been eaten, we have identified some that are still within the expiry date. These are now being withdrawn.
“Initial information was that products containing affected eggs had not been distributed to Scotland, but as the number of affected eggs imported to the UK is greater than originally thought, it is possible that some products containing them may have been distributed here.
“However, as this represents 0.007 per cent of the eggs consumed in the UK every year, it remains the case that it is very unlikely that there is any risk to public health from consuming these foods.”
He added: “85 per cent of the eggs we consume in the UK are laid here. We have no evidence that eggs laid in Scotland are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in Scotland. Testing of eggs in Scotland is under way and results will be published as soon as they are available.”