Germany’s agriculture minister said on Tuesday that the contamination of millions of eggs with a potentially harmful insecticide was caused by criminal activity.
“It is criminal, that is very clear,” Christian Schmidt told German television station ARD on Tuesday.
Retailers in several European countries have pulled millions of eggs from supermarket shelves as the scare over the use of insecticide fipronil widened.
The World Health Organization considers fipronil to be moderately toxic and says very large quantities can cause organ damage. Dutch and Belgian authorities have pinned the source of the insecticide to a supplier of cleaning products in the Netherlands.
Farmers in the Netherlands nd Belgium have already culled hundreds of thousands of hens in the wake of the fipronil scare but they can only regain market access once there are no traces of the insecticide in their eggs.
The latest health scare follows a bird flu epidemic that swept northern Europe late last year and forced poultry farmers to cull flocks as well.