Fifteen EU countries as well as Hong Kong and Switzerland have received eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil, the European Commission says.
The Commission will hold a meeting with ministers and regulators on 26 September. Its food safety chief has called countries to stop « blaming and shaming » each other.
A row has erupted over how long Belgian and Dutch authorities have known about the contamination. Eggs, coming mainly from the Netherlands, have been found to contain a harmful pesticide banned by the EU for use in the food industry.
« Blaming and shaming will bring us nowhere and I want to stop this, » Vytenis Andriukaitis, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a statement. « But first things first. Our common job and our priority now is to manage the situation, gather information, focus on the analysis and lessons to be learned in a view to improve our system and prevent criminal activity. »
On Thursday, investigators arrested two people in raids on companies in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The UK food watchdog also said about 700,000 eggs had been sent to the UK from potentially contaminated Dutch farms, up from an earlier estimate of 21,000. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it was very unlikely that there was a risk to public health.
Processed foods containing eggs, including sandwiches and salads, have been recalled from Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose and Asda. Supermarkets in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany have withdrawn millions of eggs from sale.
On Friday, France’s Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert said about 250,000 affected eggs had been sold in the country since April, adding that all products containing eggs from contaminated farms would be taken off the shelves.