Millions of eggs have already been destroyed, but the scandal over eggs contaminated with Fipronil is still growing. Eggs containing the nerve agent have now been found in Austria and Romania too. Europe's journalists discuss the lessons to be learned and who should pay the price for misinformation.
Our schizophrenic consumer habits
The Fipronil scandal reflects the schizophrenia of the consumer writes Libération, taking up the metaphor of 'L'œuf miroir', the French name for a fried egg.
“This dish reflects the best and worst of what we are capable of. The worst: millions of chickens in abominable battery cages, victims of the agro-food industry and an ultra-consumerist lifestyle. … The best: pampered chickens pecking away blissfully in the open air, whose eggs are sacralised by star cooks. … Between the two extremes is the chaos of our own contradictions. We take the trouble to go to farmers to buy 'good fresh eggs', only to stuff ourselves with industrially produced cakes on the return journey.”
EU does not guarantee food safety
Even EU regulations can't prevent such scandals, Jutarnju list concludes:
“Just because it says somewhere that such and such a pesticide or insecticide is forbidden in the EU, it doesn't mean that all EU farmers will behave ethically and morally. Some will no doubt try to use them regardless, in the belief that not everything can be checked or that import controls in certain countries aren't that stringent. … The scandals over Dutch Fipronil eggs, e.coli-contaminated German cucumbers, lettuces and tomatoes, and eggs from Poland containing salmonella show that the controls will never be entirely adequate.”
Scandalous silence of ministers
According to Belgian reports the Netherlands already knew about the use of Fipronil in November 2016. De Telegraaf demands cosequences:
“The Dutch Food and Welfare Authority (NVWA) was apparently warned back in November 2016. But there was no mention of it in a letter to parliament. [Health Minister Edith] Schippers and [State Secretary for Economic Affairs Martijn] van Dam keep passing the buck between them and playing down the importance of the earlier report about Fipronil. They also kept very quiet for several days after the egg drama came to light and the NVWA issued contradictory warnings. … We are talking here about grave dangers to people's health and important economic interests. Both members of government need to come up with a good explanation for their misconduct. Otherwise they have no option but to resign.”
Don't blow things out of proportion!
All the uproar is totally disproportionate, argues Die Welt:
“Of course Fipronil has no place in chicken eggs, of course we need to find out how a purely chemical insecticide found its way into a supposedly 100 percent vegetable-based cleaning fluid, who did the tampering, and who kept quiet about it. Pesticides have no place in animal feed or human foodstuffs. Toxic or not. But Fipronil is one of the most important pesticides we have, killing among other things the sandfly, which is on the rise as a result of global warming. The sandfly is feared because it spreads leishmaniosis, the most dangerous disease spread by parasites after malaria. The EU has imposed strict regulations on the use of the substance - not on the grounds of supposed dangers to human health, but out of concern for honey bees.”
Animal welfare plays a minor role
The scandal is further proof that major reforms are necessary in modern agriculture, De Volkskrant admonishes:
“Industrial animal farming has become so intense that animal welfare and public health all too often play only a minor role. Animals have become commodified. ... Farmers who want to switch to more animal-friendly production methods are often unable to find the necessary investors. They will lose their fight as long as the majority of consumers in the country put prices above sustainability. The political leaders need to enter the game if change is to occur, and a targeted taxation policy could be a step in the right direction.”