Hypocrisy and double standards In food hygiene in the EU.

Graham Charles Lear
6 min readAug 19, 2019

Ask a British person how they like their eggs and they will come up with a variety of answers. Boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, and many variations thereof. The one answer you are highly unlikely to hear is “contaminated”. Yet that is precisely what EU producers served up to UK consumers two years ago. That is not all they have served to us “contaminated” either as you will see further on in the article. It will probably shock you to the core.

First though the great EU Belgian & Dutch egg scandal

  1. In 2017, 700,000 contaminated eggs from Belgium and Holland made it into the UK’s food chain

2. A variety of egg products had to be pulled from the shelves at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, and Asda

3. A massive scandal in the EU, but barely reported in the UK.

Food hygiene is a complex subject but it all comes down to one thing. We want to buy and eat healthy food which is not going to make us ill or kill us in the long term because of the use of chemicals.

Unsurprisingly, EU laws and regulations on food production and sale are epic in their scope. What matters, however, is not the hundreds of thousands of words in EU documents but what we ultimately put in our mouths.

Remain MPs and campaigners might wish to think about the following before they next speak about “chlorinated chicken”. Contaminated EU eggs

In 2017, the UK’s Food Standard’s Agency (FSA) admitted that around 700,000 contaminated eggs from Belgium and Holland had made it into the UK’s food chain.

EU bodies, Belgium, & the Netherlands accuse each other of complicity

The office of the Belgian Health Minister Maggie de Block claimed that they had alerted the EU on 6th July (2017) and that Dutch authorities had known about the contamination as long ago as November 2016.

The Netherlands Food Safety Agency (NVWA) denied this but was less clear about why it had not alerted authorities in June 2017 when the accusations resurfaced. It then emerged that Dutch police had arrested two directors of a Dutch company in connection with the scandal.

The FSA’s statement said “Some of the products made from these eggs will have had a short shelf life and will have already been consumed, however, we identified some that were still within the expiry date. These are now being withdrawn by the businesses involved. Attached is a list of products we have identified to date and we will update this list as our investigations proceed.”

EU Commission: ‘Nothing to do with us’

Meanwhile, the EU itself could not fully deny claims from Belgium that it had been told about the problem in early July 2017. On 10 August 2017 the EU Commission said: “On July 6, there was a bilateral exchange between Belgium and the Netherlands within the framework of the so-called administrative support and cooperation system. The Commission does not actively monitor the exchange in the AAC as is the case with the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).”

In effect, the Commission wanted to distance itself from the growing crisis, which involved millions of eggs in the EU.

Now let's look at Chlorinated food? It's not a problem if it comes from the EU.

The EU permits chlorine-washed fruit and vegetables

The industrial washing of fresh fruit and vegetables is permitted in the EU

Next time Remain MPs and campaigners open a bag of prepared lettuce from Spain, they may wish to give that some thought.

Imported food products into the EU — many offenders.

Oh yes, I promised I would show you so here it is in all its glory.

Imported food products from outside the EU must comply with EU regulations, but of course, only a small proportion are inspected. Over time, serial offenders may become subject to stricter controls.

To give readers some idea of the types of contaminated products which have made it into our food chain, below is a list of just some of them, you will have eaten most of these in the past

Since July 2018 the following processed fruit and vegetables are on the stricter inspection list:

Preserved apricots from Turkey and Uzbekistan (increased control on the presence of Sulphites)

Dried apricots from Turkey and Uzbekistan (increased control on the presence of Sulphites)

Dried lemons from Turkey (increased control for the presence of Pesticide residues)

Frozen raspberries from Serbia (increased control on the presence of Norovirus)

Frozen sweet peppers from the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, and Turkey (increased control on the presence of pesticide residues)

Frozen other peppers from the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Thailand, India, Pakistan and Vietnam (increased control on the presence of pesticide residues)

Peanut butter from Bolivia, Gambia, Madagascar, Sudan and Senegal (increased control on the presence of Aflatoxins)

Groundnuts (peanuts) from Bolivia, Gambia, Madagascar, Sudan and Senegal (increased control on the presence of Aflatoxins)

Hazelnuts from Georgia (increased control on the presence of Aflatoxins)

Pistachios from the United States (increased control on the presence of Aflatoxins)

Dried goji berries from China (increased control on the presence of pesticide residues)

Frozen okra from India and Vietnam (increased control on the presence of pesticide residues)

Preserved turnips from Lebanon and Syria (increased control on the presence of rhodamine B)

Dried peppers from Sri Lanka (increased control on the presence of aflatoxins)

Dried grapes from Turkey (increased control on the presence of ochratoxin A)

Preserved vine leaves from Turkey (increased control on the presence of pesticide residues.

Can you imagine what the EU itself would have done if it had been British eggs that were contaminated? I have absolutely no doubt that a total ban on UK egg exports would have been imposed by the EU Commission — within hours.

It’s a shame that the very high standards of food production in the UK, often far higher than in most EU countries, are not more widely celebrated by the government and the British media.

The relevance to Brexit

In recent days, the US administration has been making very positive statements about wanting to start sector-by-sector trade deals with the UK as quickly as possible after Brexit. From President Trump to National Security Advisor John Bolton, to US Ambassador Woody Johnson, the statements have come thick and fast.

America wants to do business with Brexit Britain.

Cue the usual wild claims from Remain MPs and campaigners about chlorine-washed chicken. It is as if this is on the top of the agenda of the trade negotiators from the US and the UK. Remainers say nothing about the huge volumes of manufactured products, nor the wide variety of services, which the UK sells to the USA each year and which generate a healthy trade balance.

No, for Remain MPs and campaigners it’s all about chlorinated chicken.

Why do they whine on about this? Because the EU bans US chicken, so it must be bad.

WELL, Why does the EU ban it? Mainly to protect its massive chicken factories.

It’s worth noting that the EU’s principal objection to chlorine-washed chicken from the US is not the process itself, but their claim that chlorine-washing makes US producers less likely to worry about the hygiene of their birds before they are packaged.

I suggest that the EU goes to look at chicken factories in its own backyard if it is concerned about the welfare of birds before they go to market. Because believe me many of them all over the EU are far worse than the USA ones.

[ Sources: FSA | Die Welt | RTBF | AFSCA ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.