EU ministers to discuss food fraud provisions

EU lawmakers will discuss the recent case of fipronil adulteration in eggs at a high-level ministerial meeting in Brussels on September 26, according to Health & Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis.

The aim of the meeting will be to establish what lessons can be applied to strengthen the way EU networks are dealing with food safety and food fraud and "make sure that those who pursue in that kind of illegitimate business are found and brought to justice," he said.

Last month, millions of eggs were pulled from supermarket shelves across Europe after it was discovered that some had been contaminated with fipronil, a potentially harmful insecticide. The contamination was discovered on Dutch poultry farms, and it is thought that fipronil was used in chicken farms to combat lice. Fipronil is widely used to rid household pets such of parasites, but is banned in the EU for the treatment of animals destined for human consumption, including chickens.

It has since been established that contaminated eggs may have been distributed to 40 countries worldwide, including 24 of the 28 EU countries, once again revealing the extent and complexity of international food supply chains.

The September 26 meeting "will be an opportunity to draw some conclusions that we will be then able to put forward to our next formal Council agenda," said Andriukaitis after an Informal Agriculture Council meeting yesterday.

He said that after news of the scandal broke the EU launched a monitoring exercise to investigate the possible use of illegal substances in egg products and egg producing farms, and took steps to reassure trading partners of the safety and traceability of EU food products.

"Let me conclude by reassuring the EU citizens that we will remain extremely vigilant and will not tolerate that actions of few people put in question the integrity, the reputation and the stability of our entire food chain, one of the economic pillars of the Union," he concluded.

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