Insecticide Scare Causes Supermarket Giant Aldi to Pull Eggs From German Stores
Reacting to an unfolding scandal regarding the use of an illegal insecticide on commercial egg-laying hens in Belgium and the Netherlands, European supermarket giant Aldi has pulled all eggs from its nearly 4,000 stores in Germany due to the potential risks from the imported eggs.
The company says it pulled the eggs out of an abundance of caution and that there is “no reason to assume there are any health risks,” according to an Aldi spokesperson who spoke to Reuters.
The insecticide in question is fipronil—it’s the same chemical in the popular flea and tick product Frontline—which is banned in Europe and the U.S. for use in animals used for human consumption. The chemical, if ingested by humans, can cause kidney, liver and thyroid problems. Christian Meyer, the agriculture minister for Lower Saxony, told local news outlets that as many as 10 million contaminated eggs may have made it into Germany. Millions of more eggs were pulled in the Netherlands and Belgium. The governments of the Netherlands and Belgium told the Associated Press all the affected eggs have been destroyed and there’s no danger to public health.
In the U.S., between 2002 to 2010 there were 4,243 recorded cases of fipronil poisoning and one death (mostly due to work-related exposure). The cases resulted in sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, and seizures, according to the Pesticide Action Network. The chemical has also been linked to bee die-offs.
This fipronil issue first surfaced last June in Belgium then spread to the Netherlands, where a criminal investigation is underway to determine how the insecticide found its way into the eggs. The Netherlands is Europe’s lead egg and poultry meat exporter, selling an estimated 65 percent of the 10 billion eggs it produces a year abroad.
The Dutch farming industry has said the reaction from grocery companies has far outstripped the actual problem. “This is fearmongering, because you know there are no risks,” Eric Hubers, the head of the Dutch poultry farmer’s association, said during a radio interview on Thursday. “All Dutch eggs that are reaching markets now are guaranteed free of fipronil.”