The fipronil crisis in The Netherlands has a profound impact on poultry farmers in Holland and the rest of Europe. All though no infected eggs have reached consumers, the egg supply to supermarkets has been interrupted to further investigate the product quality. The egg crisis has marginal impact on animal breeders and equipment builders. Since that is the focus of the companies within the Agrimex Holanda consortium, this has no further consequences for Mexico.

Because Mexico also imports eggs and foodstuffs containing egg, we understand that questions may have risen about the safety of these products. Therefore we share the fipronil statement issued by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). We trust that the information gives you sufficient clarification on the matter. In case you have further questions, please contact Alex de Kerpel or Eltjo Bethlehem.

Fipronil statement by Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority

In June the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) got knowledge of the detection of residue of fipronil in eggs. Fipronil is a pesticide. The possible source of the fipronil in eggs appeared to be a Dutch poultry service company which offers services to treat poultry against red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae). A possible link with a Belgian supplier is currently being investigated. The information was officially made available to the Dutch Public Prosecutor. The prosecutor started a penal prosecution in the Netherlands, which included confiscation of the administration of the Dutch company.

The NVWA, the competent authority in The Netherlands, immediately started an investigation to determine which farms had made use of the services of this Dutch company for the treatment of chickens against red mite. For priority reasons, the NVWA first focused on eight farms that were treated in July this year. Eggs from these farms were examined. On 22 July 2017, the NVWA reported that in eggs from seven farms residues of fipronil were detected above the European maximum residue limit (MRL) of 0,005 mg/kg (Regulation 396/2005/EC). These farms were blocked for sale immediately, implying that no eggs from these flocks has been placed on the market since. In addition, eggs that had been sold or transported before 22 July were traced and destroyed.

Subsequently, the NVWA compiled a list with all poultry farms having made use of the services of the company since 1 January 2017. This list was based on administrative records of the company. In total 180 farms (layer farms, farms with parent stock and with pullets) were traced, and blocked for sale. Eggs from these locations, and if relevant also manure and meat, have been examined. After investigations and tests it was found out that on  137 farms the level of fipronil exceeded the legal MRL limit of 0,005 mg/kg.

On 30 July NVWA detected a fipronil concentration in eggs from one farm which was above the Acute Reference Dosis (ARfD) of 0,72 mg/kg. This value is an estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water that can be ingested over a short period of time without appreciable health risk to the consumer. On 31 July, the NVWA has announced a warning to consumers regarding this particular batch of eggs. Consumers were advised to destroy all eggs with these suspect codes. In addition, the NVWA published a list with all egg codes with levels exceeding the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for children. The reasoning was that, although these eggs may not pose an acute risk for humans, long term consumption of these eggs by children may harm their health. From tracing by NVWA it was concluded that from this lot no eggs were exported to countries outside the European Union.

On 3 August 2017, the NVWA published a list of all codes of eggs with a level above the MRL on their website. The contaminated eggs originated from 137 farms. In eggs from 68 of 137 farms, levels were above the ADI for children. All affected farms will remain blocked for sale until examination of eggs indicates that levels of fipronil are below the MRL.

The poultry sector and experts are currently investigating all options for cleaning stables and to determine whether it is feasible to produce eggs without traces of fipronil again with the currently affected flocks (without the need of depopulation). The alternative of culling contaminated flocks and subsequent cleaning of empty stables and repopulating with unaffected flocks is considered as well. Manure from affected flocks will be burned in allocated premises. Farmers are responsible for cleaning stables, safe removal and disposal of manure and other products. All efforts are aimed to be able to produce eggs free of fipronil residues again as soon as possible.

Further tracking and tracing is ongoing, especially on eggs and egg products in which eggs from blocked farms can be found. Every food business operator has the obligation to ensure that the ingredients/raw materials used for the production of food are compliant with EU legislation. Therefore the food business operator must ensure that the eggs/egg products/chicken meat used for the production of food is compliant with the EU MRL on fipronil. The NVWA is supervising that if products are detected with levels of fipronil above the legal standard , the company involved takes the product from the market, both international and domestic markets. The combined efforts of the food business operator and the NVWA are aimed to removing all food products that do not comply with the legal standard for fipronil from markets.