Nearly 250,000 eggs contaminated with an insecticide have reached shops in France and most of them have already been eaten, the French farm ministry said on Friday, adding that it saw minimal health risks from the incident.
"The levels of actual contamination do not pose any risks for consumers," it said, citing an investigation by France's health and safety agency that pointed to "very low" risks.
"But while the risk to human health has been ruled out, investigations are being actively pursued at poultry farms and manufacturing sites of egg-based products," it added.
The announcement came as the European Commission called an emergency meeting to stop the "blaming and shaming" between countries over the insecticide-tainted eggs scandal.
'Blame game between European countries'
Switzerland and 15 European Union countries have all received eggs contaminated with the chemical fipronil, which can harm human health if ingested in large quantities, the Commission said.
The popular insecticide, used to treat pets for fleas and ticks, is banned in the food chain and Dutch police arrested two directors of a local company on Thursday in an investigation into the source of the contamination.
Eggs imported from Belgium, Netherlands
In France, a batch of 196,000 contaminated eggs was imported from Belgium and put on the market between April 16 and May 2, followed by a second batch of 48,000 eggs from the Netherlands that reached shops between July 19-28, the farm ministry said.
The eggs from the first batch and some from the second would have been consumed by now, the ministry said, adding that eggs still on sale from the second batch had been removed from shelves by the retailer concerned – the Leader Price chain owned by Casino.
The French authorities had previously identified five food processing factories that had received contaminated eggs from Belgium and the Netherlands.
They had now identified a further two food factories that had imported contaminated egg-based ingredients from Belgium, the ministry said.
French officials also confirmed that one farm in the Nord-Pas de Calais region was found to have used fipronil, via a Belgian subcontractor, and is now blocked from selling eggs.
Millions of eggs have been destroyed or pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe since July 20, when it was made public that fipronil was found mixed with another treatment sprayed on chickens for ticks, fleas and lice, known as Dega 16.
Almost all lab tests show that only very low levels of Fipronil – seven to 10 times lower than the maximum permitted – have been detected in eggs from the treated chickens, although one test in Belgium was above the European limit.
Tainted eggs scandal escalates into 'diplomatic spat'
Poisoning by small doses has few effects and requires little treatment. Heavy and prolonged exposure can damage the kidneys and liver or cause seizures.
The scandal has caused major political fallout, with neighbours Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany squabbling over who is to blame, and who knew what and when.
Poultry farmers have been hardest hit, and are blaming the chemical industry for compromising their business and exposing consumers to danger.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-08-11