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Environment

Illegal use of fipronil contaminates EU eggs

by Britt E. Erickson
August 20, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 33

Credit: Shutterstock
Scientists in Spain test eggs for the presence of the pesticide fipronil.

Retailers in the European Union, Hong Kong, and South Korea have removed millions of eggs from grocery store shelves and destroyed them over concerns that they are contaminated with the insecticide fipronil. Earlier this month, Belgian and Dutch officials identified an illegal detergent used by a disinfectant company on chicken farms in the EU as the source of the contamination. Two managers of the disinfectant company have since been arrested in the Netherlands for allegedly adding fipronil to an herbal product called Dega-16 and using the mixture on chicken farms to treat mites or lice. Fipronil is banned from use on food in the EU because it is associated with kidney, liver, and thyroid problems in people. The European Commission plans to discuss the egg scandal at a meeting with EU ministers and food safety regulators on Sept. 26.

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