A formal report into last year’s contaminated egg scandal, which led to 3.6 million hens being slaughtered, has slammed egg producers, government inspectors and ministers for failing to put food safety first.
Neither the poultry sector, the food safety board or the two ministries involved showed sufficient concern for food safety when the fipronil crisis broke, the report said.
In particular, the health and farm ministers failed to inform parliament and the public properly about the scandal, while the farming industry put profit ahead of food safety and did not carry out proper checks for banned substances.
The food safety board also showed major failings by not reacting ‘adequately’ when it was first tipped off about the contamination crisis at the end of 2016 and in early 2017. This allowed Chickfriend, which had supplied the anti-louse chemicals, to continue operating for several more months, the report said.
Barneveld-based company Chickfriend, now bankrupt, supplied its anti-louse agent to some 360 farms nationwide. It did not cooperate with the inquiry because it is currently the subject of a criminal investigation.
‘The egg sector had been plagued by a problem with lice for years,’ the report said. ‘Then along came a wonder product. Alarm bells should have started ringing immediately.’
The total damage of the scandal to the poultry sector is put at some €100m.
Former justice minister Winnie Sorgdrager, who led the investigating commission, declined to comment on possible damages for farmers who were affected because of the legal implications.
Dutch egg farmers are taking the food safety board to court for failing to do its job and say it should be financially responsible for their problems.
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