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Fipronil contaminated eggs found in Italy - govt

21 agosto 2017 | 18.23
LETTURA: 3 minuti

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Traces of Fipronil have been found in samples of fresh egg pasta from a shop in the province of Rome and from a poultry farm in the province of Ancona, a senior Italian health official told Adnkronos on Monday as the pesticide contamination scandal continues to widen.

"We are talking about samples that showed some abnormality," said the Italian health ministry's director-general of food safety, Giuseppe Ruocco

"However, the contamination found is far below toxic levels. And the necessary precautionary restrictions have already been made by the relevant bodies," Ruocco said.

"Several hundred samples will be taken representing a significant percentage of the sector under the plan we have put in place," he said.

"It's an effective plan and we will continue in that direction."

The details given by Ruocco came after the Italian health ministry earlier on Monday said that two out of 114 samples of eggs and egg products had tested positive for Fipronil.

"Further checks are being carried out to establish the sources of the contamination, and any necessary safety measures put in place," the ministry stated.

Eggs and egg products produced in Italy and abroad are being monitored, including those on sale in supermarkets, according to the ministry.

Italy's central health authorities are coordinating with regional health authorities and with police to safeguard the public, the ministry added.

Italian farmers' association Coldiretti called on the government to follow the example of France and reveal the companies and food chain that produced the Fipronil tainted products, as well as their final destinations.

"We need immediate transparency of information to avoid alarmism that is damaging to businesses as well as consumers," said Coldiretti president Roberto Moncalvo.

Coldiretti's call was echoed by Italian consumer protection group Codacons.

"Health minister (Beatrice) Lorenzin has to protect citizens: we must have nationwide checks and transparent information," said Codacons president Carlo Rienzi.

Poultry farms in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France have been shut down due to Fipronil use, while the UK, Sweden, Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Denmark, Switzerland and Hong Kong have received contaminated eggs

Fipronil can damage people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands if eaten in large quantities. However, food standards agencies are playing down the risks for anyone who has already eaten the tainted eggs or egg products.

European Union health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on 11 August urged countries to stop "blaming and shaming" each other after a row erupted over how long Belgian and Dutch authorities have known about the contamination.

More than 100 poultry farms have been closed during a criminal investigation of the scandal, two people arrested and 26 suspects identified and evidence seized from their companies.

Millions of eggs and items containing eggs have been withdrawn from sale in several EU countries.

The European Commission - the EU executive - will on 26 September hold a meeting with ministers and regulators over the Fipronil scandal.

The insecticide is a common ingredient in veterinary products for getting rid of fleas, lice and ticks and is banned for use on animals destined for food.

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