The Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain's premises was raided by prosecutors this week in connection with a scandal in which fipronil was used on hens used for egg production in 2017.
Fipronil is commonly used as an insecticide for pets, but it is illegal to use the substance to treat animals that are used for food production due to its tendency to bioaccumulate in the body.
According to a report from Reuters, the judicial investigation “concerns the spreading of false information about the fipronil contamination in eggs. A spokesperson for the food safety agency of Belgium told the news organization that it was cooperating with the investigation.
The scandal came to light in the summer of 2017, but food safety officials in the Netherlands were reportedly tipped off that fipronil was being used at poultry farms in the country as far back as November 2016.
The Belgian agency had been accused by German officials of delaying communications about the fipronil use in egg production, leading to the raids.
NVWA, the food and product safety board of the Netherlands, had also earlier been accused about not being forthcoming with information as soon as it should have. Agricultural lobbying organization Land- en Tuinbouw Organisatie Nederland filed a lawsuit against NVWA in December, claiming that the agency’s negligence caused financial losses to the country’s egg producers.
The European Commission vowed in September to bring the “culprits” of the fipronil scandal to justice.
“Let me conclude by reassuring the (European Union) citizens that we will remain extremely vigilant and will not tolerate that actions of few people put in question the integrity, the reputation and the stability of our entire food chain, one of the economic pillars of the union,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU commissioner for health and food safety, said at the time.
The scandal involved 26 of the 28 member states of the European Union, as well as 19 other countries.