MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The fipronil scandal affected hundreds of poultry farms in 26 EU member states and 19 third countries, EU Commissioner on Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis said Tuesday.
Since early August, millions of chicken eggs have been recalled from the shelves of European stores over fears that they might have been contaminated with fipronil. Eggs contaminated with the insecticide have been detected in at least 15 EU member states, as well as in Switzerland, Hong Kong and South Korea.
"The impact of the illegal use of this product on laying hens has reached an EU wide dimension with today hundreds of farms blocked for production, 26 Member States and 19 Third Countries involved," Andriukaitis said after the Informal meeting of EU ministers for agriculture and fisheries in Tallinn, as quoted by the European Commission's press service.
"It is confirmed that all suspected farms have been blocked and contaminated eggs and egg products are being destroyed. But some work remains to be done," the EU commissioner said.
According to Andriukaitis, the fact-finding missions to the four EU member states that have been mostly affected by the situation are scheduled for late September and early October.
The commissioner also stressed that the EU authorities would remain "extremely vigilant and will not tolerate that actions of few people put in question the integrity, the reputation and the stability of our entire food chain, one of the economic pillars of the Union."
Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide used to treat lice, fleas and ticks, and in large quantities, it can cause liver, kidney and thyroid gland damage. Fipronil is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a moderately hazardous substance, and its use is illegal in the production of food for human consumption in Europe.