Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Frankfurt — Germany’s agriculture minister said on Tuesday that the contamination of millions of eggs with a potentially harmful insecticide was "criminal".

"It is criminal, that is very clear," Christian Schmidt told German television station ARD. He gave no further details.

Retailers in several European countries have pulled millions of eggs from supermarket shelves as the scare over the use of the insecticide fipronil widened. Millions of hens may need to be culled in the Netherlands.

The European Commission said it first learned about the contamination in late July when it received an official notification from Belgium but had not yet established whether the country had broken any rules by not notifying it sooner. The Belgian food safety regulator has drawn criticism both at home and abroad after it said it was made aware of a first case of fipronil contamination in early June.

Schmidt said no contaminated eggs should be on shop shelves in Germany now.

Batches of possibly contaminated eggs from the Netherlands and Germany had been shipped to Sweden, Switzerland, France and Britain, EU filings showed last weekend.

The World Health Organisation considers fipronil to be moderately toxic and says very large quantities can cause organ damage. Dutch and Belgian authorities have pinned the source of the insecticide to a supplier of cleaning products in the Netherlands.

Reuters

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