PARIS (Reuters) - 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.
Millions of chicken eggs have been pulled from European supermarket shelves due to the presence of fipronil, with several European countries affected by the incident.
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.
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 in a statement.
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.
The European Commissioner charged with food safety called on Friday for a meeting of ministers and national watchdogs to discuss the egg contamination scare that has provoked finger-pointing between European Union countries.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Caroline Pailliez; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta