SUPERMARKETS started emptying shelves yesterday as safety chiefs admitted they had vastly underestimated the number of contaminated eggs from Dutch farms.
Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose binned some of their products after the Food Standards Agency said the number of imported eggs treated with the banned pesticide Fipronil had risen from 21,000 to at least 700,000. Snacks, sandwich fillings, mayonnaise and salads were recalled as 180 Dutch farms were shut and raids across Europe led to two arrests.
‘Some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelflife and will already have been consumed,’ the FSA said. ‘We were notified about 21,000 eggs but our investigations have uncovered 700,000.
‘We are continuing to check but it is an unfolding situation and there may be more.’
All the affected supermarkets said there was no risk to public health and they were withdrawing their products as a precaution.
Asda said: ‘We take our responsibilities seriously and are working closely with the food industry and the FSA in its continuing investigation.’
It has emerged Dutch officials knew in November that the banned insecticide Fipronil had been widely used but it was not until Monday that the FSA issued its first alert. Fipronil can cause sweating, vomiting, agitation, dizziness and seizures in humans, but experts insisted the quantities involved were too small to cause illness.
However, food safety expert Dr Michael Walker said: ‘My question for the risk assessors is, what work has been done to ensure liquid egg products, widely used in baked goods, are not implicated?’
Twenty tons of the tainted eggs have been sold in Denmark. In Germany, Holland and Belgium, millions of eggs have been destroyed. The pair arrested were directors at Dutch firm Chickfriend.
British farms produce 85 per cent of eggs eaten in the UK. The British Egg Industry Council said they do not use Fipronil and there was ‘no need for people to change the way they consume or cook eggs’.
Removed from the shelves
■ By Sainsbury’s Ham and Egg Salad, 240g: Use by August 9-14
■ By Sainsbury’s Potato and Egg Salad, 300g: Use by August 9-14
■ Morrison’s Potato and Egg Salad, 250g: Use by August 13
■ Morrisons Egg and Cress Sandwich (in Morrisons Cafe only): Use by August 11
■ Morrisons Cafe Sandwich Selection (in Morrisons Cafe only): Use by August 11
■ Waitrose Free Range Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler, 240g: Use by August 13-16
■ Waitrose Free Range Reduced Fat Egg Mayonnaise Deli Filler, 170g: Use by August 14
■ Waitrose Free Range Egg and Bacon Deli Filler, 170g: Use by August 14- 16
■ Asda Baby potato and free range egg salad, 270g: Use by August 9-14
■ Asda Spinach and free range egg snack pot, 110g: Use by August 9-13
■ Asda FTG Ham and Cheddar ploughman’s salad bowl, 320g: Use by Aug 9-13