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The detection of fipronil residues in eggs by Belgian authorities in July 2017 led to millions of eggs being withdrawn from the market in the European Union. The contamination was caused by illegal use of non-approved veterinary medicinal products in poultry farms. As a result, the European Commission and the Member States agreed to establish a specific follow-up program for Fipronil and other acaricides. The objective of this program was to obtain a comprehensive vision on the contamination of eggs and poultry products related to illegal uses of acaricides.

Between 1 September and 30 November 2017, Member States took a total of 5,439 samples of chicken eggs, chicken fat and muscle, in which the presence of fipronil and other additional acaricides was analyzed, up to a total of 66 substances.
The information provided by the Member States and Iceland was analyzed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has published its analysis of the food data collected in 53,655 individual analytical determinations. Of all the substances analyzed, only 2 were detected: fipronil and amitraz, the latter only in 2 samples.

13.6% of the samples contained residues that exceeded the Maximum Residue Limits (MRL), almost exclusively fipronil. The samples in which these levels were detected were raw chicken eggs (81%), fat from laying hens (18%), laying hens muscle (0.7%) and dried egg powder (0.3%).

Regarding the origin of the samples that exceeded the legal limits, 89.5% were from the Netherlands, 5.4% from Italy, 1.8% from Germany, 1.5% from Poland and the rest, in smaller proportion, from Hungary, France, Slovenia and Greece.
The proposed sampling strategy had a great influence on exceeding the Maximum Residue Limits.

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Author: Dra. Isabel Gomez