Widening egg scandal hits 16 European countries, Hong Kong

A man transports eggs at a processing plant in Gaesti, southern Romania, on Friday. (AP photo)

BRUSSELS - The European Union said Friday that it plans to hold an extraordinary meeting late next month over a growing tainted egg scandal as it revealed that products contaminated with an insecticide have now spread to 17 countries.

Millions of eggs have been destroyed or pulled from supermarket shelves since July 20, when it was made public that the pesticide Fipronil, which is dangerous to human health, was found mixed with another treatment sprayed on chickens for ticks, fleas and lice, known as Dega 16.

Almost all lab tests show that only very low levels of Fipronil -- seven to 10 times lower than the maximum permitted -- have been detected in eggs from the treated chickens, although one test in Belgium was above the European limit. Poisoning by small doses has few effects and requires little treatment. Heavy and prolonged exposure can damage the kidneys and liver or cause seizures.

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