Around 700,000 eggs from Dutch farms implicated in a contamination scare have been distributed to Britain, rather than the 21,000 first estimated, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said.
The insecticide Fipronil, found in the eggs, can be harmful to humans if consumed in large doses.
Egg-containing products including salads, quiches and sandwiches have been recalled from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda and Morrison’s, although the FSA said some of the recalled products will have already been consumed.
Although the number of affected eggs which have entered the country is 33 times higher than was originally estimated, the FSA stressed there is no need for panic.
“It is very unlikely that these eggs pose a risk to public health, but as Fipronil is unauthorised for use in food-producing animals we have acted with urgency to ensure that consumers are protected,” the FSA said.
The Agency put out its statement following an investigation into the problem, establishing that many more eggs than it previously believed had come into the UK from the affected farms.
Approximately 180 Dutch farms, including egg farms, are believed to have used a product containing Fipronil to treat red mite in poultry houses. Fipronil is banned for use around food-producing animals in the EU.
Fipronil is classed by the World Health Organisation as a Class II moderately hazardous pesticide.
The affected products are processed foods in which eggs are one of the ingredients, mainly sandwich fillings and other chilled foods.
Many of the eggs involved were mixed with other eggs which have not come from affected farms so Fipronil residues will be highly diluted, according to the FSA.
Fresh eggs are not affected, the agency stressed.
“While in some European countries eggs containing Fipronil residues have been sold as fresh eggs, in the UK this is not the case.
“Many of the eggs involved were mixed with other eggs which have not come from affected farms so Fipronil…