THE UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has admitted that the number of eggs imported into the UK from farms involved in the “toxic eggs” scare is 700,000. Nonetheless, they say that “it is very unlikely that there is any risk to public health.”
The FSA’s first estimate was that only 21,000 eggs had reached the UK. They have not explained why their estimate has been revised upwards to 700,000. Although this sees like a large number, the FSA has calculated that this is only 0.007% of the eggs consumed each year in the UK – hence its assumption that the risk is low. However, that calculation would only apply if the contaminated eggs were spread evenly throughout the UK. If all of them were on sale in one town or county, the risk should be calculated on the basis of egg consumption in that area. The FSA has not indicated where the affected eggs were sold, so the risk calculation cannot be verified independently.
The scare came after eggs produced in Holland were found to contain traces of the insecticide Fipronil, which is normally banned from products intended for consumption because it can damage human kidneys, the liver and the thyroid glands. Some 180 egg producing farms in Holland have been closed while the authorities investigate the cause of the contamination. Police have raided premises in Holland and Belgium in connection with the investigation: these are thought to be private cleaning firms which use fipronil in their operations.
Questions have now been raised about the safety of chickens produced in Holland, but no official statement has yet been made on whether the authorities are investigating this problem.