Belgium admits it kept quiet about 'tainted' eggs probe

Germany concerned Belgium withheld data about contaminated eggs

Germany concerned Belgium withheld data about contaminated eggs

"From that point on, the secrecy of the inquiry took precedent. We understand that people have questions about public health and we are trying to answer them", Stragier said.

Contacted by AFP over the past few days, the prosecutor in Antwerp handling the case refused to give out any information on the specific orders of the investigating judge.

Millions of eggs have been pulled from supermarkets in Germany and the Netherlands in a widening scandal over possible contamination by the insecticide fipronil that has triggered investigations by prosecutors in Belgium and the Netherlands, and the temporary shutdown of some poultry farms.

Belgian supermarkets have cleared eggs from the shelves of supermarkets as a precautionary while awaiting the results of tests.

One German official said up to 10 million of the contaminated eggs may have been sold in Germany. "Agriculture Minister Schmidt would have expected notification from officials in Belgium in a timely and comprehensive manner", the spokesman said. "Belgium and the Netherlands in particular are obliged to", he added.

They said they would only accept eggs for the moment that have been tested for fipronil by a public agency or an accredited laboratory, adding there may be a shortage of eggs due to the move.

Eggs from another 59 farms contained high enough levels of the insecticide for the food authority to warn against any children eating them.

Fipronil is commonly used in veterinary products to get rid of fleas, lice, and ticks. It is banned from being used to treat animals destined for human consumption, such as chickens.

In large quantities, the insecticide is considered to be "moderately hazardous", according to the World Health Organization, and can have unsafe effects on humans' kidneys, liver, and thyroid glands.

The egg scandal comes shortly after another food scandal shocked European consumers.

Europol said it had seized bank accounts, properties, and luxury cars belonging to the fraudsters.

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