SERVICES

Insecticide in eggs: seizures in Emilia Romagna

Bologna - The omelettes were made in the Netherlands and Belgium. But the contaminated dishes may have ended up on tables in 15 countries, including Italy. The danger goes by a name that is difficult to pronounce: it is called “Fluocyanobenpyrazole”, and it is the most important ingredient in a deadly insecticide

Bologna - The omelettes were made in the Netherlands and Belgium. But the contaminated dishes may have ended up on tables in 15 countries, including Italy. The danger goes by a name that is difficult to pronounce: it is called “Fluocyanobenpyrazole”, and it is the most important ingredient in a deadly insecticide. It is capable of exterminating large colonies of parasites but also very dangerous to man.

Some have also used this substance (in the form of a product sold under the name Fipronil) as an insecticide in chicken farms in Holland and consequently traces wound up in thousands of eggs. The stock was distributed for months throughout Europe and travelled as far as Hong Kong. Inspections in recent days led to the scare.

But it is feared that it is already too late because, if it is true, then the contaminated products have been in circulation since the month of April, as the French government has said. In Italy the seizures took place in the last few days. “]It’s] not eggs, but their derivatives,” said Giuseppe Ruocco, the General Director of Food Safety for the Ministry of Health: “Products considered at risk are derivatives of Dutch eggs, imported by France. It was a matter of 250 quintals of pasteurised egg white and yolk that was distributed to pastry shops and industrial confectionary making facilities. I believe it is important to reassure our citizens because the German studies prove that this substance can only be dangerous if the eggs are consumed in great quantities.” Belgium and the Netherlands are passing the blame for this mess back and forth. And according to the investigations carried out by the European Commission, it seems that the blame can be divided more or less equally between the two countries. As a matter of fact, the insecticide mixture for the chicken farms was prepared in Belgium. Among its many ingredients was the toxin Fipronil. But in the Netherlands, the insecticide was used around the coops in which the chickens are raised and produce thousands of eggs every day. Eggs laced with Fluocyanobenpyrazole were sold in France and Germany and the danger from their by products is greater. And they reached fifteen countries. Including Italy: “We have conducted very extensive inspections,” the Ministry official emphasised, “almost all of the eggs used in Italy come from local farms. Some egg by-products come from abroad, like those that were seized in Emilia Romagna.” The Ministry of Health is looking to assuage concerns and calm consumers down. But the case has raised an alarm in Europe.

In fact, the European Commission has already summoned the representatives of the ministries of all the states to discuss the case and establish new rules to avoid further cases of food contamination: “The situation was made more complicated by commercial triangulation,” Coldiretti complained, “What has been happening in recent days proves that the moment has arrived to institute the requirement to indicate all the ingredients that come from abroad on the food product labels.” “We are in favour of the greatest transparency possible,” the Ministry’s food safety chief answered, “But the companies change providers often and we cannot force them to print new labels every time that they choose a new ingredient. The inspection network is a sufficient guarantee of safety for all of our citizens. We hope that the case of the contaminated eggs in the Netherlands will not set off the usual irrational fear - which in this case would be unjustified - and that there will not be negative consequences for Italian food companies.”

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