SPANISH health authorities have assured that none of the contaminated eggs detected in Europe have entered the country 'for the moment', even though they are known to have been circulating in France and the UK.
An alert was raised recently about consignments of eggs from Belgium bearing traces of an insecticide which is not fit for human consumption and is banned in the European Union, called fipronil, and which is used to treat a parasite in laying hens, known as dermanyssuss gallinae.
The eggs have been distributed to the UK, France, Austria, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Poland and Romania, as well as within Belgium itself and to Switzerland, an EEA nation.
But within hours of the pesticide being detected, the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Fodder (RASFF) meant all member States in the EU and all EEA countries were advised.
An inquiry has been launched by the European Commission, leading to a temporary block on all distribution from source farms, the immediate withdrawal of any eggs believed to be contaminated from the market, and a disciplinary case opened to ascertain whether Belgium reacted too slowly to suspected use of fipronil.
It was detected by the Belgian food safety authority, AFSCA, in June, but EU authorities were not told about it until July 20, and the scandal did not hit the headlines until early August.
According to analyses published since, the insecticide was used by the Dutch farm Chick Friends, although it was the Belgian firm Poultry Vision, based in the province of Amberes, which supplied the substance to Chick Friends.
Spain is thought to have been safe from the contamination at present, but the Spanish Agency for Consumers, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, is monitoring developments.
Fortunately, Spain's sizeable agricultural industry means a very high proportion of its foodstuffs are nationally produced, with only certain fruits and vegetables that do not grow regularly in the country being imported – in fact, when produce is not in season in Spain, it is often hard to even find it in supermarkets.