Suit in fipronil case filed by Flemish government

Summary

The government of Flanders has joined the criminal investigation into the tainted eggs affair as a civil party and is considering compensation for egg producers

‘Those who are guilty should pay’

The government of Flanders has filed suit as a civil party in the investigation into the fipronil affair, which has affected the safety of eggs. The news was announced by agriculture minister Joke Schauvliege at a meeting in the Flemish parliament.

The federal government has already filed suit as a civil party – a situation in Belgium where all criminal proceedings are in the name of the state, and where civil parties can join themselves to that same case.

The Flemish parliament has been gathering information, mainly in its agriculture committee, about the contamination of eggs by fipronil, an insecticide banned in farming. The now European-wide problem has been traced back to a Dutch pest control firm, which distributed a legal insecticide mixed with fipronil.

The firm received its insecticide from a supplier in Antwerp province. It is unclear where the mixing of the two pesticides took place. Both firms are under investigation.

Last month, the federal food safety agency FAVV ordered the withdrawal of certain categories of eggs from the market. Supermarket chains went even further, withdrawing eggs that FAVV said were safe. As a result, the local egg market collapsed.

According to Schauvliege (pictured), 14 of the 87 poultry farms suspected of being tainted by the insecticide have been shut down. No other country has imposed a ban on the import of Belgian eggs, she said.

The Flemish food marketing agency Vlam plans a campaign to revive consumer confidence in the industry. The government of Flanders, meanwhile, is considering compensation for egg producers affected by the drop-off in consumption through no fault of their own. According to Schauvliege, “those who are guilty should foot the bill”.

Photo courtesy Joke Schauvliege/Twitter