Egg Contamination Scare Hits The UK

Egg Contamination Scare Hits The UK

Being vigilant where food safety is concerned is a must for all businesses in this particular industry – and you can do an awful lot of good for you and your company if you go on refresher courses like the CIEH level 2 food safety for catering course.

But all the information about how to handle produce, how to keep your premises clean and how to avoid cross-contamination won’t help you if the threat comes from outside your business. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has just announced that contaminated eggs from farms across Europe have made their way to the UK, with some 700,000 eggs containing Fipronil believed to have been imported.

It was noted that these eggs are unlikely to pose a risk to public health but keeping yourself informed about potential scares such as this is certainly wise if you do run a food business. The FSA also observed that these 700,000 eggs still only represent 0.007 per cent of the eggs that the UK consumes each year so public health is unlikely to be affected.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, Fipronil is an insecticide that is used broadly to control ants, cockroaches, beetles, termites, fleas, ticks and other insects. People can be exposed to the chemical either through contact with the skin, contact with the eyes, breathing it in or eating it. Symptoms of brief exposure include slight skin irritation through direct, short-term contact with the chemical. If eaten, however, health effects do include nausea, sweating, headaches, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, seizures and stomach pain.

Fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals here in the UK, so the FSA has now acted with some urgency to make sure people around the country are protected. Food businesses have now also been reminded of their legal responsibilities, which includes alerting the FSA and other local authorities if they think that their food doesn’t comply with safety requirements.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA, commented on the matter, saying: “I’m confident that acting quickly is the right thing to do. The number of eggs involved is small in proportion to the number of eggs we eat, and it is very unlikely that there is a risk to public health. Based on the available evidence there is no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs. However, Fipronil is not legally allowed for use near food-producing animals and it shouldn’t be there.”

According to the Guardian, four supermarkets have now withdrawn products from their shelves as a result of the contamination scare. Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have pulled certain products from their stores, such as sandwich fillers, sandwiches and egg salads. And in the Netherlands, where the scare originated, eggs have been removed from supermarkets and around 180 farms have been temporarily closed down. And two company managers have been arrested by Dutch investigators over the alleged used of Fipronil at poultry farms.