AFSCA has made contact with Lotus Bakeries, to ensure that products withdrawn from sale in France are equally withdrawn in Belgium, where appropriate. This was indicated on Monday by a spokesperson from the Agency for Food Chain Safety. Last week the French Minister of Agriculture published a list of products in which the insecticide Fipronil was detected. These, in particular, contain almond paste produced by the Belgian manufacturer. The products, principally waffles, carry no risk for consumer health. However, the Fipronil content exceeds the maximum residue limit (known in Belgium as the “LMR”), above which they are said to be “non-compliant and should be withdrawn from sale.”
In France, a list of these non-compliant products has been published by the Minister of Agriculture. In Belgium, the government has not to date issued any communications upon the issue. Jean-Sébastien Walhin, the spokesman for AFSCA, explains, “The responsibility falls upon the shoulders of businesses to withdraw non-compliant products from the market.”
It is then the responsibility of the agency to check that no non-compliant product is on the shelves in shops. Thus, within this framework, the agency made contact with Lotus so as to ensure that the company is taking uniform measures in Belgium and France. Mr Walhin stresses, “The same measures should be complied with in Belgium and France, and indeed everywhere in Europe.”
It is the responsibility of the authorities to inform the consumer, as soon as a danger to public health is detected. In this context, AFSCA has disseminated on its website the batch number for the single batch of eggs, in which harmful doses of Fipronil were detected. Harmful, in this instance, is defined as above the European safe limit of 0.73 mg/kg. These eggs were the only ones to be subject to an actual recall. For the most part, there is no necessity anticipated, as part of the European procedure, to communicate further non-compliant products being withdrawn from the market.
The list made public in France is thus evidence of a different and “unusual” choice in terms of communication. AFSCA highlights, “Dozens of products are withdrawn each year by businesses, for example because the labelling is not in the correct language. We will not issue a communication on each occasion!” AFSCA goes on, “It is also about avoiding confusion amongst the population by changing how we communicate.”