Concerns over eggs contaminated with fiprolin have seen eggs taken off the shelves of Aldi and Lidl in Germany lately for fear of affecting public health. However, there are now worries that the contaminated eggs have been sold and consumed in the UK. The problem started in the Netherlands and Belgium, and disinfectant used in the Netherlands is thought to be the cause of the problem.
Pesticides, disinfectants and medicines containing fiprolin are not allowed around livestock under EU law. Considered to be ‘moderately hazardous’ by the World Health Organisation, fiprolin has been linked with damage to kidneys, liver and thyroid glands if people are exposed to high qualities of it. The FDA are assuring consumers in the UK that there is nothing to worry about as the number of eggs contaminated will be so minuscule it shouldn’t pose a threat to consumer’s health.
Undoubtedly scares like this will make some people hesitant towards eating eggs for a while. But is fiprolin really much that other chemicals that are legally allowed in food? In the UK three additives stick out as potentially harmful to the body but are still used in many processed and meat products across the country: sodium benzoate (E211); sodium nitrate (E250) and propyl gallate (E310).
This chemical is one that should be avoided by children who have a tendency to become hyperactive. Although the chemical itself doesn’t cause hyperactivity, it’s thought to play a role in worsening it. When consumed with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) sodium benzoate can create benzene which can lead to severe health problems. Benzene has been linked to a higher risk of contracting leukaemia and other types of blood cancer.
Sodium nitrate is essentially a salt that is added most commonly to cured meats to help preserve them. However, nitrate can be very harmful to the body and in some cases lead to death. Nitrates effect the body’s ability to carry oxygen around the body by binding themselves to red blood cells.
This antioxidant has been linked to higher cancer rates in rats, although some studies give a conflicting opinion. As such the Centre for Science in the Public Interest recommend avoiding it until more conclusive results have been reached. Depsite this it can be found in a number of processed foods including vegetable oils, meat products and chewing gum. It has also been linked with kidney and liver problems.
Whilst it’s concerning that fiprolin has been allowed to contaminate eggs on such a large scale, it’s worth noting that many other chemicals that are present in everyday food choices, especially in processed meats, also present health risks.
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