Millions of chickens face cull across Europe over insecticide-tainted eggs scandal

Aldi stores in Germany stop selling eggs amid Dutch food safety scare

Nearly a week after the Dutch authorities shut numerous poultry farms after finding high levels of fipronil in batches of eggs and the recalling of eggs from the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium due to this banned insecticide for use on farm animals because of its danger to human health, Brussels significantly escalates the geographical scope of the scandal.

European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen told reporters last week that developments were being monitored "very closely".

The country's agriculture minister said he had ordered its food safety agency to make clear why it failed to notify neighbouring countries until 20 July, despite knowing about the contamination since June.

"What I can say is that the farms are identified, the eggs are blocked, the contaminated eggs are traced and withdrawn from the market, and the situation is under control", she said.

Contamination with the toxic chemical has prompted supermarkets in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany to remove millions of eggs from their shelves, including the discount supermarket giant Aldi which announced Friday it was pulling all Dutch eggs from stores in Germany.

"Investigations to date indicate that any affected products are no longer on the shelves".

Authorities in Switzerland and Sweden also said they were tracking shipments and removing eggs, as the impact of the affair widened.

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Dutch farming organisation LTO said that several million hens may need to be culled at 150 companies in the country, with 300,000 having already been killed.

Fipronil can treat lice and ticks in chickens, but should not be used on food-producing animals because of its toxicity.

Dutch investigators believe the insecticide was illegitimately used in a cleaning product to treat red mite in poultry houses.

About 180 poultry farms in the Netherlands have also been temporarily shut in recent days while investigations are held.

GERMAN Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt on Saturday expressed concern about news that Belgian authorities first learned about the possible contamination of eggs with an insecticide in June, a month before the issue became public.

It is thought to have been used on chickens in Belgium and could be potentially risky to humans.

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