Shane Commentary


Belgium Admits to Delay in Reporting Fipronil Contamination of Eggs

Aug 11, 2017


Authorities in Belgium have now admitted that they were aware of fipronil contamination in eggs imported from Holland in June, over a month before an official declaration. Authorities in Germany are concerned over the delayed response which was attributed by the Belgians to an ongoing legal investigation.

The German Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt stated in a TV interview on August 8th that the entire event was “criminal” referring to the apparent widescale use of an unauthorized insecticide.


Field investigations have revealed that as many as 200 farms may have been contaminated by spraying an insecticide containing unapproved fipronil in the environment of chickens. The motivation was in all probability to control Dermanyssus spp. (red mites) which are nocturnal blood feeders living within houses and depressing the productivity of flocks.

It is evident that flocks exposed to the insecticide cocktail containing fipronil will have to be culled based on the persistence of the phenylpyrazole compound.

It now has emerged that a consignment of 60 cases of eggs was sent to the U.K. from implicated farms. Approximately 25 percent of eggs consumed in this nation are imported amounting to five million cases annually.

Supermarkets in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands have removed eggs from shelves based on trace-back investigations. In the EU each egg is jet-printed with a code (of variable legibility) indicating country of origin, farm, housing system and date produced. As a precaution, Aldi, a major European supermarket chain, has removed all eggs until it can be restocked with product known to be free of contamination.

Confusion and concern among consumers invariably leads to a reduction in sales following an incident such as pesticide contamination or salmonellosis. See the January 14th 2012 posting on EGG-CITE concerning contamination of pork and eggs with dioxins in Germany and neighboring nations which involved 5,000 farms and reduced sales by 25 percent for weeks. Fortunately authorities in Belgium, Holland and the U.K. have advised that there is no health danger from consuming eggs although German regulators have issued precautionary statements concerning contamination with fipronil.