Contaminated egg scandal leads to empty supermarket shelves

Aldi stores in Germany stop selling eggs amid Dutch food safety scare

Wim ten Ham's farm in the central Dutch town of Ede - where dozens of poultry farms are reputed for their eggs - is one of hundreds of farms whose eggs are suspected of having been contaminated by the insecticide fipronil.

"As there have been reports from more and more (German) federal states about the discovery of fipronil in eggs, Aldi South and Aldi North have made a decision to remove all eggs from sale across the country", the two operators of Aldi supermarkets said in a joint statement.

Belgian and Dutch authorities are investigating how the insecticide came illegally into contact with poultry.

It comes after millions of eggs were taken off supermarket shelves on the continent last week, after traces of the insecticide were found on several Dutch farms.

Albert Heijn, the country's largest supermarket chain, said it had removed two thirds of the 38 different kind of eggs it normally sells.

"Investigations to date indicate that any affected products are no longer on the shelves".

An LTO spokesman said they "had to be eliminated because of contamination".

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Belgium now has production blocked from 51 farms - a quarter of those nationwide - with fipronil found at 21 farms, although levels were ten times below the maximum European Union limit, the country's food safety authority AFSCA said.

About 180 poultry farms in the Netherlands have also been temporarily shut in recent days while investigations are held.

European Union bodies immediately notified food safety authorities in Britain, France, Sweden and Switzerland after it emerged that eggs contaminated with the insecticide may have entered their territories.

But it is banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens.

Food safety authorities in France, Sweden and Switzerland have also been notified by the EU.

The substance is absorbed into the skin or feathers of chickens and then passes into the eggs.

Supermarkets in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland have pulled millions of eggs from the shelves after fipronil, a substance potentially unsafe to humans, was found in them.

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