On 7 August 2017, the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Consumption were asked by ANSES of a request for scientific and technical support for human health risks related to the presence of fipronil in eggs for consumption.
Fipronil is an active substance authorized in EU as a phytosanitary substance for certain uses (seed treatment for cover crops as well as for crops such as onion, shallot, leek and certain family of brassicaceae grown in the field with a harvest before flowering).
In France, no phytosanitary preparations based on fipronil are authorized.
Fipronil is authorized in France as an antiparasitic agent in veterinary medicines for pets. It is not used for the treatment of livestock for consumption. No consumer exposure via food is therefore expected for this type of use. The residues of fipronil found in eggs and poultry meat in July 2017 are the result of fraudulent use of this substance to treat red chicken lice.
Fipronil has moderate toxicity and is not considered to be genotoxic, carcinogenic or toxic to reproduction. The effects observed in humans following acute exposure to preparations containing fipronil are generally mild. The effects that could occur if swallowed, in view of the mechanism of action of fipronil and the experimental data, are neurotoxic effects, and in particular convulsions.
Risk assessment associated with the consumption of eggs containing fipronil:
From the French consumption data it is possible to estimate the concentration of fipronil in the eggs, which should not be exceeded, so that the exposure remains below the acute reference toxicity value (ARfD of 0.009 mg / kg bw).
Based on the maximum intake for children aged 3-17 years (20.83 g / kg bw / d), this concentration would be 0.43 mg / kg of egg for the sum of fipronil and its sulphone metabolite MB461367 .
On the basis of data collected by the Agency in its national food consumption studies, the risk assessment identified the maximum amount of eggs that could be consumed at one time without Acute risk. This evaluation was carried out for different populations and based on a maximum concentration of fipronil in contaminated eggs comparable to that reported in Europe (1.2 mg / kg of egg). On this basis, the maximum quantity of eggs that can be consumed varies from one (for one child aged 1-3) to ten per day (for an adult)
The Agency’s conclusions:
If the levels of consumption of eggs or meat from contaminated chickens identified by the Agency are exceeded, the risk can not be excluded. However, given the concentrations of fipronil observed to date in contaminated products, and considering the characterization of the hazards of this substance, the risk of occurrence of health effects appears very low.
The Agency’s recommendations:
• ANSES recalls firstly that products whose concentration of fipronil exceed the MRL should not be marketed or kept on the market.
• If measurements of the level of contamination by fipronil were to be made in prepared food products that may contain contaminated eggs or egg products, it will be necessary to take into account the dilution factor of eggs or egg products in these food products to compare these results at the MRL.
• If contaminated poultry, eggs or eggs products are to be disposed of, it should be ensured that the disposal process ensures that there is no further contamination of the food chain.