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Egg-sasperated Brussels ministers arrange high-level meeting over egg scandal

Egg-sasperated Brussels ministers arrange high-level meeting over egg scandal

Dutch investigators arrested two suspects on Thursday in connection with a probe into the discovery of fipronil insecticide in European eggs, prosecutors said.

The European Commission plans to hold a meeting about the contamination on September 26.

But the risk from eggs is thought to be low, because the number of contaminated eggs is also low.

These eggs which have come from Netherlands and some even from Germany and Belgium have been doused with fipronil and were supplied by a company called Chickfriend.

"'I'm confident that acting quickly is the right thing to do", Heather Hancock, chairman of the UK Food Standard Agency, said Thursday.

The Netherlands is the leading exporter of eggs to the European Union, according to data released by Eurostat.

There are concerns that numerous contaminated eggs will already have entered the food chain through processed foods that use eggs, such as biscuits and cakes. Processed food products are likely to have been affected, including salads and sandwiches made by Sainsbury Plc, Wm Morrison Plc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Asda.

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarket shelves in Europe.

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It added that in the United Kingdom, the Dutch eggs were not sold as shell eggs but used in foods with many other ingredients - mostly sandwich fillings or other chilled foods.

A statement by the FSA said: "The decision to withdraw these products is not due to food safety concerns, but is based on the fact that fipronil is not authorised for use in food producing animals". The eggs were seized Wednesday and the state agency said it would continue to monitor the situation.

Friday, the Polish authorities announced that they had discovered some 40 000 contaminated eggs imported from Germany, while stressing that these eggs had not been offered for sale in the shops and that they would be destroyed or sent back to the German supplier.

The EU insists there is no threat to human health, but the World Health Organization (WHO) says that when eaten in large quantities it can harm people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

Authorities suspect Belgian company Poultry Vision of producing a fipronil-laced treatment created to kill mites in chickens.

BFREPA said British Lion Code eggs have been tested by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and have proven to be perfectly safe.

It has since emerged that Belgian officials knew about the contamination in June, but did not make the information public.

Farmers in the Netherlands - one of Europe's biggest egg exporters - and Belgium have previously identified Chickfriend as the company that they hired to treat their chickens to eradicate the parasite red lice.