2017-08-07 | Food safety

Fipronil in chicken eggs

Status and background information
Last update: 30 August 2017, 6:00 pm

Several state authorities in Germany, notably the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Ministry for the Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection and the Lower Saxony Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, are currently recalling chicken eggs derived from different farming methods from farms in the Netherlands and Germany as they are contaminated with the insecticide fipronil.

Eggs that were initially tested in Belgium were found to have traces of between 0.0031 and 1.2 mg/kg of fipronil. In tests carried out so far on samples of eggs found in Germany from Dutch or German farms, the levels have been found to be well below a level of 0.72 mg/kg which is not considered to pose a health risk to the general population, adults and children according to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). (Sources: Audio statement by the BfR, German language; Lebensmittelwarnung.de).

Assessment of health effects by the BfR

According to the Federal institute BfR, the eggs contaminated with fipronil, processed foods possibly containing these eggs, as well as the chicken meat do not present an acute or chronical health risk for adults or children in Germany, based on current data.

The BfR has used the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD) of fipronil when conducting its assessments. This is 0.009 mg per kg of body weight and is based on the consumption of one large portion in one day. Food consumption data gathered in Germany (National Food Consumption Study II) and food consumption data from other sources in Europe (EFSA PRIMo Model) were used to verify whether the ARfD has been exceeded in the amounts specified. The calculations were initially based on a sample with the highest level of fipronil; a chicken egg sample with 1.2 mg/kg of fipronil. According to German food consumption data, the ARfD has not been exceeded on this occasion either for adults or for children. However, according to European food consumption data, this means that the ARfD exposure level for a small child (based on UK data) is being exceeded by 166 per cent. This has led the BfR to recalculate which levels of fipronil do not exceed the ARfD based on European consumption data. According to EU standards, levels of fipronil in chicken eggs of up to 0.72 mg/kg do not constitute a risk for adults and children.

Rationale for the product recalls

The recalls have been based on the fact that the use of fipronil on animals reared for human consumption is prohibited. According to the latest information, the eggs have become contaminated because fipronil has been unlawfully mixed in with the insecticide Dega 16. As Dega 16 is currently in circulation in its original approved form, as well as in a form mixed with fipronil, testing of possibly affected products can take additional time.

The use of fipronil

Fipronil is approved in the EU to be used as a crop protection agent and in biocidal pest control. It cannot be used as a veterinary drug or as a biocidal substance in disinfectants.

According to current information gathered by the German Association for Controlled Alternative Animal Husbandry (KAT), a large proportion of the chicken eggs that have ended up in the German food retail industry with traces of the substance Dega 16 relate to 100 Dutch farms, 4 German farms and 1 Belgian farm. Investigations are currently being carried out to determine whether and to which extent the eggs produced by the above businesses are actually contaminated with fiprobil. It has been ensured that no eggs from these farms are currently on the market (KAT statement on fipronil).

The authorities have confirmed that eggs from Dutch farms are more likely to be contaminated to a far greater extent than those from German farms.

Chicken eggs in processed products

The extent to which the affected batches of eggs have been industrially processed is currently being investigated. The German Federation for Food Law and Food Science (BLL) has recommended that its members immediately test any products that could be potentially affected. Chicken eggs bearing the specific stamps* may not be sold and may also not be processed further due to the current recall measures.

If food producers that have been unaware of the contamination with fipronil have processed these eggs unknowingly before the recall, they must be able to prove that the final product, i.e. pasta, mayonnaise, egg salad, etc., meets the applicable legal requirements. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has given an analytical determination limit of 0.005 mg firponil / kg for raw materials and processed products. Food products containing fipronil levels below 0.005 mg / kg are considered markatable and do not have to be withdrawn from the market. Regarding processed products, processing factors have also to be taken into account in order to assess marketability. Products that do not meet the legal requirements are not-markatable and must not be put into circulation.

For up-to-date information on recalled products, please visit: Lebensmittelwarnung.de

Which federal states in Germany are affected?

Based on the current information available, affected eggs were delivered to all German states (source: BMEL).

*Which eggs are affected?

Eggs in Germany with the following stamp numbers are affected.
The stamp numbers crossed out have been deleted on the official portal Lebensmittelwarnung.de, as "in certain cases the Dutch authorities had blocked all hen houses of the affected company. However, inspections carried out by the Dutch authorities do no longer indicate the use of the product or a contamination of the eggs."


1-DE-0804632 (only Baden-Württemberg)

2-DE-0804634 (only Baden-Württemberg)
2-DE-0804635 (only Baden-Württemberg)





X-NL-4022701 (X = numbers 0 to 3)

Source: Lebensmittelwarnung.de


Please find a list of stamp numbers of eggs recalled in the Netherlands due to increased fipronil contents here (in Dutch):
NVWA list

Source: Lebensmittelwarnung.de


Rapid warning systems work

The German food federation BLL does not see any fundamental problems with the existing well-functioning rapid alert systems. In the case of fipronil, apparently, criminal activities were the trigger. However, the German food sector sees a need of improvement with a view to the communication of the Dutch and Belgian authorities .

Last update: 30 August 2017, 6:00 pm
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