Belgian chicken meat exported to Africa may have been contaminated with the hazardous insecticide fipronil, Johan Bosch, general-secretary, National Association of Egg Traders (NVE), said Monday.
Fipronil is a broad-spectrum insecticide used to treat lice, fleas and ticks, and in large quantities, it can cause liver, kidney and thyroid gland damage.
The chemical is considered by the WHO to be a moderately hazardous substance, and its use is illegal in the production of food for human consumption in Europe.
A contamination scandal has been gaining momentum in the European Union following the discovery of fipronil in the eggs of some EU-based poultry farms.
Millions of chicken eggs have been recalled in past weeks from the shelves of European supermarkets over fears that they might have been contaminated with fipronil.
Eggs contaminated with fipronil have so far been detected in 15 European Union member states, as well as in Switzerland and Hong Kong, the European Commission said on Friday.
“There were a lot of hens that were supposed to be slaughtered in September and October. Older hens. They have had the treatment with the fipronil…
“We have samples of everything we have sent. [Meat from egg-laying hens] is sold all over the world but our first export market is Africa,” van Bosch said, as quoted by The Guardian newspaper.
On Wednesday, Belgian Minister of Health Denis Ducarme said that the Dutch authorities knew about fipronil in eggs back in November 2016, but failed to inform EU partners about it.
Amsterdam categorically rejected such accusations.
Prosecutors from Belgium and the Netherlands are involved in the investigation of the scandal.
On Thursday, Dutch authorities detained two men suspected of involvement in the case, and Belgian police conducted searches at 12 enterprises specializing in disinfection services and using fipronil.