A CONSIGNMENT of pasteurised liquid egg which tested positive for a banned insecticide has been seized in the Basque Country upon its arrival from France just days after Spain's government assured no contaminated supplies had entered the country.
Although several countries in Europe are known to have received – and retailed – eggs and products made with eggs from the Belgian firm Country Vision, which used the toxic pesticide Fipronil supplied by Dutch farm Chick Friends, Spain has been considered safe so far largely thanks to its long tradition of home-producing most of its foodstuffs.
But the Basque regional health authorities have confiscated 22,000 units of ready-beaten egg white and yolk sent from France which tested positive for Fipronil.
The ingredient was due to be used for industrially-produced food items due for supermarket retail, manufactured by a company in the province of Vizcaya (Biscay), of which Bilbao is the capital.
The consignment will now be destroyed.
Just two days earlier, the Spanish Agency for Consumers, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN), part of the ministry of health, had assured that none of the contaminated eggs affecting northern and eastern Europe and Italy had reached Spain (see full story here).
Fipronil, given to hens to kill off parasites, is banned in the European Union as it is passed into eggs laid and also affects meat consumed by humans.
Specialists in poultry-rearing say Fipronil represents a 'very unlikely' risk of humans becoming poisoned by consumption of chicken or eggs, and that the amounts found in the Belgian and Dutch eggs exported were so small that an individual would have to consume 'literally thousands' of them 'over a lifetime' to suffer adverse effects.
But the EU is very strict on ingredients which carry even the slightest risk to health and manufacturers in member States, or who trade with Europe, are expected to be equally as stringent if their produce is allowed to hit the markets.
Similar cases have been seen in cosmetics, such as body lotion withdrawn from supermarkets, and even flip-flops, in recent times, where the levels of harmful banned chemicals detected were too low to cause any real risk to the population but which are prohibited from consumer goods retailed in the EU as even a one-in-millions probability of human harm is considered too high.