ALERT: 700, 000 potentially contaminated eggs in United Kingdom food chain

Belgium Agriculture Minister Denis Ducharme

At least 700,000 eggs implicated in the fipronil scandal have been imported into the United Kingdom, far more than initial estimates, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed.

In large quantities, the insecticide is considered by the World Health Organization to be "moderately hazardous" and can have risky effects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

The food regulator claimed on Monday that only 21,000 had been imported from implicated farms.

The U.K. raised its estimate of eggs contaminated by the unauthorized pesticide fipronil, with the outbreak believed to have affected some products made by major supermarkets.

The likelihood of any related food illnesses from consuming contaminated products is very low.

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The agency has issued a list of recalled processed foods including sandwiches and salads in which the eggs were found, but added that many eggs were mixed with other eggs from unaffected farms, so any Fipronil residues would be diluted.

But it said it was very unlikely that there was a risk to public health.

Fipronil is not deemed to be a risk to food safety, but is not authorised for use in food producing animals. All of them stock British Lion shell eggs but they use imported eggs in many of their other foods containing eggs.

The Food Safety Authority has confirmed that a small amount of contaminated Dutch eggs were supplied to Irish food businesses.

It originally thought that about 20,000 found their way into the UK. Shell eggs were unaffected, she said, because all those eggs were sourced from the UK.

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A statement from the FSA said: "Investigations into the Fipronil incident in Europe continue".

"The Veterinary and Food Administration is following the issue closely, and can not exclude that further examination may uncover more imports of fipronil-tainted eggs or egg products to Denmark", it said.

"It relates to two managers at the company that allegedly used the substance (fipronil) at poultry farms", spokeswoman Marieke van der Molen said, with Dutch media naming the suspects' company as Chickfriend.

Dutch and Belgian authorities are carrying out raids as part of a criminal investigation into the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms.

There is no evidence any British eggs have been contaminated but testing on United Kingdom farms are underway. Supermarkets have recalled eggs in their millions in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands as a result. It said farmers had contracted a company to treat their birds against red mite, expecting that the treatment used would be effective and safe.

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Aldi earlier this month pulled all Dutch eggs from its stores in Germany.

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