Following concerns raised in the Netherlands about a substance called Fipronil, which has been used inappropriately in cleaning products on chicken farms, a number of contaminated eggs have been identified as being distributed to the UK from the farms affected. Fipronil is not authorised for use as a veterinary medicine or pesticide around food producing animals.
Although initially thought that the number of eggs involved was very small, it has now been established that more eggs from affected farms than originally reported have been imported into the UK. It is very unlikely these eggs pose any risk to public health, but Fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals in the UK.
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. Some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed, however, some have been identified that were still within the expiry date. These are now being withdrawn by the businesses involved.
It is likely that the number of eggs that have come to the UK is closer to 700,000 than the 21,000 we were previously informed had been imported. Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency are committed to ensuring that food is safe. Initial information was that products containing affected eggs had not been distributed to Scotland, but as the number of affected eggs imported to the UK is greater than originally thought, it is possible that some products containing them may have been distributed here. However, as this represents 0.007% of the eggs consumed 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.
85% of the eggs we consume in the UK are laid here. There is no evidence that eggs laid in Scotland are contaminated or that Fipronil has been used inappropriately in Scotland. Testing of eggs in Scotland is underway and results will be published as soon as they are available by Food Standards Scotland.