700,000 contaminated eggs could have reached UK: FSA

The Food Standards Agency said today up to 700,000 eggs contaminated with the insecticide Fibronil may have reached the UK, a significant increase on the FSA’s previous estimate of 21,000.
However, the FSA stressed this increased number still represented just 0.007% of eggs consumed in the UK. It also added that many of the affected eggs were used in processed products such as sandwich fillings or other chilled foods and therefore any residues would be very diluted.
The FSA statement said: “The products affected are processed foods in which egg is one ingredient among many others, mostly used in sandwich fillings or other chilled foods.  While in some European countries eggs containing Fipronil residues have been sold as fresh eggs, in the UK this is not the case. Many of the eggs involved were mixed with other eggs which have not come from affected farms so Fipronil residues will be highly diluted. It is likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 we previously believed had been imported. However, as this represents 0.007% of the eggs we consume 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. 

“Some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed, however, we identified some that were still within the expiry date. These are now being withdrawn by the businesses involved.”

Products from all the major supermarkets are involved and include Sainsbury’s Ham and Egg Salad, Morrisons Egg and Cress Sandwich, Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler, and Asda Baby potato and free range egg salad

The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that Fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland are committed to ensuring that food is safe, and that UK consumers have food they can trust.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “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.”

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