Netherlands: Scores of egg producers shut down as pesticide scandal spreads

Palinurus

The Living Force
Source: http://nltimes.nl/2017/07/24/seven-dutch-poultry-companies-closed-toxic-substance

Seven Dutch poultry companies closed over toxic substance

By Janene Pieters on July 24, 2017 - 14:10

The Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA halted production at seven companies in the poultry sector after they were found to use poisonous insecticide fipronil in the chicken barns. The authority also recalled eggs from four of the companies, the NVWA said on Saturday.

How many eggs are involved and whether they were distributed to supermarkets or restaurants, are unclear. NVWA spokesperson Lex Bender told the Gelderlander that there is no immediate danger to public health. "If you eat an egg like those we found, you will not become sick. But the substance does not belong in eggs, therefore we recalled them."

Fipronil is harmful to both humans and animals. In humans the substance can cause damage to the kidney, liver and thyroid gland.
Source: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/07/dozens-more-egg-producers-shut-down-as-pesticide-scandal-spreads/

Dozens more egg producers shut down as pesticide scandal spreads

July 27, 2017

The Dutch food and product safety board has stopped ‘dozens’ more poultry farms from sending their eggs to market because they may be contaminated with the pesticide fipronil.

Tests for traces of the pesticide, used to control lice in poultry, are now being carried out on eggs, hens and chicken manure at several dozen farms, the NVWA said in a statement.

On Monday, the NVWA shut down seven poultry farms after fipronil was found in samples of eggs. The chemical is primarily used as an insecticide, particularly to kill fleas, and is classed as a ‘moderately hazardous pesticide’ by the World Health Organization. In the Netherlands it is banned in the poultry sector.

The NVWA, which took the action after a tip-off from the Belgian authorities, said in a statement there is no danger to human health. According to regional paper de Stentor, the contamination may have come from a pest control company in Gelderland which used the pesticide to deal with chicken lice.

The NVWA says it has not so far found concentrations of the chemical which would prove a direct danger to human health. However, continued consumption of eggs containing fipronil ‘could have damaging effects.’
Similar: http://nltimes.nl/2017/07/27/dozens-dutch-egg-companies-closed-toxic-substance
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
UPDATE: The situation appears to be more serious than it originally seemed. Now several batches of eggs with specific numbers have got a consumer warning not to eat them and over 180 poultry farms have been shut down already.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/dutch-food-safety-board-issues-urgent-warning-over-a-batch-of-eggs/

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/01/toxic-substance-eggs-triggers-public-health-warning
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/01/poultry-farmers-hold-barneveld-company-liable-toxic-substance-eggs
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
You sparked my curiosity, Palinurus.

I never heard the word "Fipronil" before, so did some checking. It was first introduced into the market as "a broad use pesticide" in May 1996. It is a white powder with a moldy odor. Because it is fairly new, I only came across a few limited studies from outside firms on it's toxicity.

After reading your links, I came across two other articles. In the first, it states that a Dutch firm called Chickfriend purchased the product from a Belgian
firm called Ravels-Weelde, who is suspected of having added Fipronil to an authorized drug (Dega-16 - a natural product consisting of menthol and eucalyptus) for red mite control and then resold this mixture. No information is given, as to the possible effects of the Fipronil - Dega-16 combination and if it increased Fipronil's toxicity? The article also states, "Some experts expect that traces of the insecticide can stay in the abdominal fat of the chicken layers for up to 8 month, rendering them worthless." The second article claims, "Chickens can remain contaminated for between six to eight weeks."

Information that I think is lacking in all of the articles is "When did Chickfriend start using Fipronil and how often was it applied?"

National Pesticide Information Center - General Fact Sheet - Fipronil
http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/fipronil.html

Fipronil is a broad use insecticide that belongs to the phenylpyrazole chemical family. Fipronil is used to control ants, beetles, cockroaches, fleas, ticks, termites, mole crickets, thrips, rootworms, weevils, and other insects. Fipronil is a white powder with a moldy odor. Fipronil was first registered for use in the United States in 1996.

Fipronil is used in a wide variety of pesticide products, including granular products for grass, gel baits, spot-on pet care products, liquid termite control products, and products for agriculture. There are more than 50 registered products that contain fipronil.

Fipronil kills insects when they eat it or come in contact with it. Fipronil works by disrupting the normal function of the central nervous system in insects. Fipronil is more toxic to insects than people and pets because it is more likely to bind to insect nerve endings.

Health effects from a brief exposure to fipronil depend on how someone is exposed to the chemical. Direct, short-term contact with skin can result in slight skin irritation. When individuals have eaten fipronil, reported health effects included sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, and seizures. Signs and symptoms from a brief exposure to fipronil generally improve and clear up without treatment.

The amount of fipronil taken into the body across the skin depends on the product formulation. Researchers applied a dose of 79% fipronil to the skin of rats and found that less than 1% of fipronil was taken into the body after 24 hours. When test animals have eaten fipronil, between 15 and 33% (goats) and 30 to 50% (rats) of the ingested dose was absorbed by the body. The rest of the fipronil was eliminated in the feces and urine.

Once in the body, fipronil is found mainly in the fatty tissue, and breaks down into smaller chemicals called metabolites. Fipronil and its metabolites are then removed from the body mostly through the feces and also in the urine.

Can fipronil affect birds, fish, or other wildlife? Tests were done to find out if fipronil is toxic to fish and creatures in the water without backbones (invertebrates), such as shrimp and water fleas. Scientists found that fipronil is highly toxic to sea and freshwater fish, and highly toxic to sea and freshwater invertebrates. Two fipronil metabolites were also tested in freshwater fish and invertebrates and were more toxic than fipronil.

In other studies, fipronil was found to be highly toxic to some birds, but practically non-toxic to ducks. Fipronil was also found to be highly toxic to honey bees, but not toxic to earthworms.


Fipronil. May 1996. New Pesticide Fact Sheet. US EPA Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances.
New Pesticide Fact Sheet
https://www.fluoridealert.org/wp-content/pesticides/fipronil.epa.facts.may.1996.htm

Description of the Chemical: Generic Name: 5-amino-1-[2,6-dichloro-4- (trifluoromethyl)phenyl]-4-[(1R,S)- (trifluoromethyl)sulfinyl]-1H-pyrazole-3-carbonitrile

Common Name: fipronil

Trade Name: Fipronil Technical; Chipco Choice Insecticide EPA Shaughnessy Code (OPP Chemical Code): 129121 Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Number: 120068-37-3 Year of Initial Registration: MAY 1996 Pesticide Type: Insecticide
Chemical Family: Phenylpyrazoles
Producer: Rhone Poulenc Ag Company
2. Use Patterns and Formulations: Application Sites: Golf Course Turf and Commercial Turf


Fipronil is a phenylpryazole insecticide that was registered for use in 1996 (#NPIC). It is a nervous system disruptor effective on contact or ingestion. Fipronil is often used to treat rice seeds, and can be found in several tick and lice control medications for pets.
Fipronil update
http://toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Fipronil

Human Health Effects - Fipronil has a moderate acute toxicity to people and mammals. The oral LD50 is 97 mg/kg in rats and 95 mg/kg in mice. It has a slightly to moderately toxic when absorbed through the skin. The dermal LD50 in rabbits is 354 mg/kg. The dermal absorption rate is very slow. In a dermal toxicity study, researchers applied a radio-labeled fipronil solution to shaved rats. Less than 1% was absorbed after 24 hours (#NPIC).

In a study of chronic toxicity, where rats were fed fipronil daily for 52 weeks, researchers found changes in thyroid hormones, increased liver mass, and effects on the kidney. Seizures and seizure-related deaths were also noted. In a similar study, rats were fed fipronil daily for nearly two years. Benign and malignant tumors were observed in the thyroid gland. Due to this, the EPA has fipronil classified as a possible human carcinogen (#NPIC).

The inhalation of fipronil may cause convulsions and tremor (#NIOSH). Exposing the eyes can cause irritation (#PANNA).

Precautionary Notes - Fipronil may degrade into products more or equally toxic. If handling fipronil, avoid exposed areas for a reasonable amount of time. Fipronil and fipronil-sulfone are highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Use caution near water sources. Fipronil may kill many beneficial insects, including honeybees and natural predators to pests.


Fipronil is a broad-spectrum phenylpyrazole insecticide widely used to control residential pests and is also commonly used for flea and tick treatment on pets.
Acute illnesses associated with exposure to fipronil—surveillance data from 11 states in the United States, 2001–2007
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/15563650.2010.507548?src=recsys

It is a relatively new insecticide and few human toxicity data exist on fipronil. Objective. This paper describes the magnitude and characteristics of acute illnesses associated with fipronil exposure.


The Dutch food and product safety board has locked down more than 20 egg farms, because they are suspected of using an illegal insecticide called Fipronil to control red mite.
Belgian-Dutch Fipronil scandal expands Jul 27, 2017
http://www.poultryworld.net/Home/General/2017/7/Belgian-Dutch-Fipronil-scandal-expands-164304E/

Latest estimates from the government agency are that 200 farms are involved, but in what scope is not yet known. Earlier, after the first alarms went off in Belgium, 4 Dutch farms tested positive for residues in eggs above the maximum residue limit of 0,005 mg/kg. Although there is no immediate danger to public health, farms that produce eggs above the threshold cannot go on the market. Some experts expect that traces of the insecticide can stay in the abdominal fat of the layers for up to 8 month, rendering them worthless.

Cause of the contamination - As the scandal unfolds, more and more details are surfacing on the cause of the contamination. Most of the farms had their houses and/or birds treated by a Dutch firm called Chickfriend. This company bought a product from a Belgian company. The owner of a pest control company in the Belgian Ravels-Weelde is suspected of having added Fipronil to an authorised drug for red mite control and then resold this mixture. The company would have added Fipronil to the product Dega-16. Dega-16 is a natural product consisting of menthol and eucalyptus, which is used to control red mite in laying hens and is –by itself- safe, even for human consumption.

The Belgian government started the investigation after an egg processor in the Belgian town of Sint-Niklaas reported to the Federal Food Safety Authority (FAVV) that it had found Fipronil in eggs. After further research the Belgian authorities informed the European food safety warning system RASFF, because they had leads that the eggs were being exported to France, Germany, Italy and Poland. This, in turn, alerted the Dutch officials to start to look into the matter.


Dozens of poultry farms have been closed across The Netherlands after a toxic insecticide is believed to have contaminated hundreds of thousands of eggs, Dutch officials said on Tuesday.
Dutch farmers cry 'fowl' as eggs poisoned by insecticide August 01 2017
http://www.gulf-times.com/story/558637/Dutch-farmers-cry-fowl-as-eggs-poisoned-by-insecti

Since last Wednesday "about 180 poultry farms have been shuttered due to the presence of the suspect substance fipronil" which had been found in samples taken from "eggs, droppings and meat," the Dutch food authority NVWA said.

About a million eggs being transported to Germany have also been recalled from the border with The Netherlands, it added.

The insecticide is commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice and ticks. But it is banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption such as chickens.

It is believed the substance was introduced by a Dutch business, named Chickfriend, which was called in to treat red lice, a nasty parasite in chickens. which was called in to treat red lice, a nasty parasite in chickens.

"We are still estimating the number of farms which have been affected, and the analysis of 600 samples is still ongoing," a spokesman for the NWVA told AFP.

The Dutch news agency ANP said there were about 1,000 poultry farms around the country.

In large quantities, fipronil, is considered to be "moderately hazardous" according to the World Health Organisation, and can have dangerous affects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.

"Affected farms must have all eggs destroyed by a specialist firm and submit to the NWVA a plan to evacuate the birds' droppings to preserve the environment," the spokesman added.

Chickens can remain contaminated for between six to eight weeks.

Late Monday, the NWVA sent out a warning to consumers that eggs with the code X-EN-40155XX "had such elevated levels of fipronil that their consumption would present a serious public health risk."

The NWVA was on Tuesday still ensuring that the contaminated eggs were being taken off supermarket shelves and has advised people who may have bought them "not to eat them and to throw them away."

Facing large losses, the poultry farmers say they were "cheated" by Chickfriend, which they blame for the incident.

The company appears to have "mixed the illegal substance with a legal one to improve its effectiveness," Erik Hubers from the Dutch agricultural and horticultural association told the NOS broadcaster.
 

Aeneas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Fibronil is banned in the EU after a vote in 2013.
_https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jul/16/eu-fipronil-ban-bees

...
A widely used insect nerve agent that harms bees will be banned from use on corn and sunflowers in Europe from the end of 2013, after member states overwhelmingly backed the proposal in a vote on Tuesday. However, the UK once again failed to back measures to restrict pesticide use.

[...]
In Tuesday's vote, only the UK, Slovakia and the Czech Republic abstained and only Spain – the biggest user of fipronil – and Romania voted against. The UK was also one of eight of the 27 EU member states that unsuccessfully opposed the EC neonicotinoid ban.

[...]
Fipronil, which is also used for cockroach and termite control, is manufactured by the German chemical company BASF.
Here is a bit more about Fibronil from wikipedia and it might be worth seeing under what names it is sold in various countries as it might well be found in the average household in products such as "Combat Ant-Rid and Termidor.
_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fipronil

When used as bait, it allows the poisoned insect time to return to the colony or harborage. In cockroaches, the feces and carcass can contain sufficient residual pesticide to kill others in the same nesting site. In ants, the sharing of the bait among colony members assists in the spreading of the poison throughout the colony. With the cascading effect, the projected kill rate is about 95% in three days for ants and cockroaches. Fipronil serves as a good bait toxin not only because of its slow action, but also because most, if not all, of the target insects do not find it offensive or repulsive.[citation needed]

Toxic baiting with fipronil has also been shown to be extremely effective in locally eliminating German wasps. All colonies within foraging range are completely eliminated within one week.
Bee colonies have also been a prime victim of this product as Wiki mentions further down:
Colony collapse disorder[edit]
Fipronil is one of the main chemical causes blamed for the spread of colony collapse disorder among bees. It has been found by the Minutes-Association for Technical Coordination Fund in France that even at very low nonlethal doses for bees, the pesticide still impairs their ability to locate their hive, resulting in large numbers of forager bees lost with every pollen-finding expedition.[17] A 2013 report by the European Food Safety Authority identified fipronil as "a high acute risk to honeybees when used as a seed treatment for maize and on July 16, 2013 the EU voted to ban the use of fipronil on corn and sunflowers within the EU. The ban took effect at the end of 2013."
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Thank you both for your contributions. :)

Sometimes it's rather difficult to find adequate additions in English that are specific enough for/in the context, while the Dutch news coverage is mainly in Dutch of course and often too localized to be of interest globally.

Meanwhile:

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/contaminated-eggs-may-have-been-sold-in-dutch-shops-for-a-year-volkskrant/

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/02/eggs-contaminated-fipronil-maybe-sold-year
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/02/dutch-food-safety-authority-accused-fear-mongering-eggs-warning
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Palinurus said:
Thank you both for your contributions. :)

Sometimes it's rather difficult to find adequate additions in English that are specific enough for/in the context, while the Dutch news coverage is mainly in Dutch of course and often too localized to be of interest globally.

Meanwhile:

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/contaminated-eggs-may-have-been-sold-in-dutch-shops-for-a-year-volkskrant/

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/02/eggs-contaminated-fipronil-maybe-sold-year
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/02/dutch-food-safety-authority-accused-fear-mongering-eggs-warning
On a personal note, I appreciate you bringing the articles and information on the Fipronil contamination of eggs to our attention, Palinurus.

The Dutch may have "sounded the alarm" on this pesticide but the more I read up on Fipronil, the problem may be more wide spread then we realize?

Fipronil was first tested in the State of California in the Summer of 1996 and now is widely used on many food producing crops in late Spring like soybeans, tomatoes, peppers, egg plant - to name a few. It's used to coat rice seed and some varieties of corn seed (intended for animal feed) before planting. And as some articles have stated, Fipronil is used in a variety of pet products for flea and tick control.

Also, as Aeneas has pointed out, the EU has banned it's use. According to another report, France has also ban it but it is still widely used in the U.S. That, in itself, is of concern because it adds to an already large list of other pesticides and chemical cocktails used on a wide scale.

In one article I came across, it mentioned that the chemical company that was manufacturing and testing Fipronil was working with a division of the Bayer Company. In a recent report on Company mergers, Bayer was "in talks" with Monsanto for a possible merger?

Maybe, the Dutch will decide to ban Fipronil, also?
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Maybe, the Dutch will decide to ban Fipronil, also?
I've read around a bit and found that the use of fipronil on animals destined for consumption is already banned. The problem we face was caused by mixing the banned substance (fipronil) with other substances which are legal (eucalyptus oil and menthol oil) without telling Chickfriend about it, as far is now known.

Egg laying hens are a borderline case in this matter as the hens themselves will not be consumed as such, only their eggs. The hens are slaughtered when they are not able any more to produce eggs and are then used in a variety of products (for instance: chicken soup) or as cattle feed. BTW, the fipronil poison wares off in about six to eight weeks in the hens themselves and they are considered non-toxic for humans afterward. The acute problem are their eggs which have shown to be contaminated.

On the European level, the discussion and decision making about fipronil and other comparable substances (azoles and neonicotinoids) drags on for many years already, with partial bans for some uses and temporary bans for other forms of application. There are strong agro-lobbies involved as well as the chemical giants you mentioned.

Solo actions by one nation only are considered to be competitively riskily as other nations without that same action gain a competitive advantage. This argument has been used in the Netherlands repeatedly whenever anyone (like Greenpeace, for instance) argued for drastic national moves and measures, or legislation. It's a real minefield.

Maybe this scandal will speed up things, if only a little... :rolleyes:
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
UPDATE: Several supermarket chains, including the largest and most well known (Albert Heijn), have started to empty their shelves from virtually all eggs, contaminated or not -- just to be on the safe side and to minimize insecurity. All costs of removal and destruction are considered to be normal business risks (also for poultry farms) and are not eligible for any sort of compensation by government agencies, only by insurance companies -- provided there are any policies extant that cover such risks in the first place.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/albert-heijn-removes-14-types-of-eggs-from-its-shelves-as-scandal-spreads/

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/03/poison-eggs-debacle-cost-supermarkets-millions
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
UPDATE: Two German supermarket chains, REWE and Aldi, follow suit in removing Dutch import eggs from their shelves.

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/04/german-supermarkets-recall-eggs-dutch-fipronil-scandal
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Round up of the latest developments:

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/07/eggs-contaminated-fipronil-egg-containing-products-safe
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/08/dutch-food-safety-authority-tests-chicken-meat-fipronil

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/contaminated-egg-scandal-leads-to-empty-supermarket-shelves/
http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/food-inspectors-to-check-broiler-chickens-for-banned-pesticide/
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Archiving the latest RT-update on SOTT:

https://www.sott.net/article/358637-EU-commission-warns-pesticide-contaminated-eggs-from-Dutch-farms-may-have-entered-four-more-countries
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Start of the aftermath. Blame game gets into high gear:

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/09/around-10-million-eggs-recalled-fipronil-scandal

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/belgium-says-dutch-food-body-was-tipped-about-egg-contamination-last-year/
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/09/fipronil-dutch-eggs-since-2016-belgian-minister
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
UPDATE: first arrests performed.

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/dutch-food-body-says-it-was-tipped-off-about-fipronil-on-poultry-farms-last-year/
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/10/nov-16-fipronil-report-nothing-eggs-dutch-food-auth

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/two-men-arrested-in-egg-scandal-following-raids/

Two men arrested in egg scandal following raids

August 10, 2017

Two men have been arrested following raids on several homes in the Netherlands and Belgium on Thursday morning in connection with the fipronil egg contamination scandal, public broadcaster NOS reports (in Dutch).

The men are directors of Chickfriend, the Dutch company that allegedly used pesticide-contaminated delouse agent at poultry farms. The two are being suspected of endangering public health.

Apart from the men’s homes, a storage facility in Bergen op Zoom was searched while another two locations were searched at the request of the Belgian food and health authorities.

Apart from documents and papers, food and health inspectorate NVWA-IOD which carried out the raid with the Belgian inspectorate and help from Eurojust and Europol, confiscated valuable goods such as cars, bank deposits and real estate, because, according to the NVWA_IOD’s press release (in Dutch), ‘crime cannot be allowed to pay.’

Belgium

In Belgium 11 addresses were searched, including companies which had allegedly used fipronil. The raids are said to have produced ‘incriminating evidence,’ NOS writes. The raids are said to include the home of a vet.

The egg scandal started in Belgium which is the source of the fipronil found on Dutch eggs. It is thought to have come from Belgian firm Poultry-Vision which sold a product containing the chemical to Chickfriend in Barneveld to combat lice in chickens.

Fipronil is allowed to be used in cats and dogs but not in animals which form part of the food chain, NOS writes.
 

Oxajil

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
So, now we have five countries checking eggs/products for Fibronil contamination (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, and the UK). This is the list of products UK stores are withdrawing from sale: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/listofproductswithdrawn.pdf

Palinurus said:
UPDATE: Several supermarket chains, including the largest and most well known (Albert Heijn), have started to empty their shelves from virtually all eggs, contaminated or not -- just to be on the safe side and to minimize insecurity. All costs of removal and destruction are considered to be normal business risks (also for poultry farms) and are not eligible for any sort of compensation by government agencies, only by insurance companies -- provided there are any policies extant that cover such risks in the first place.
I noticed the supermarket in the area (Albert Heijn) is selling eggs again with a note saying that those are safe.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Thanks Oxajil. :cool2: Just came back from my groceries shopping trip and payed extra attention in the supermarket. Found the same result as you did, the note included.

Round-up of today's news items:

http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/10/raids-netherlands-belgium-fipronil-investigation
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/11/three-dutch-suspected-fiiponil-scandal

As eleven countries are now affected (including Denmark, Sweden. Austria and Romania among others) , the EU couldn't stay put doing nothing:

http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/08/eu-food-health-commissioner-calls-meeting-over-contaminated-eggs/
http://nltimes.nl/2017/08/11/european-commission-organize-summit-toxic-eggs-crisis
 
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