The insecticide fipronil, which has entered the food chain, triggered a scandal about contaminated eggs and poultry products. Cause is criminal action, explained Federal Minister of Economics Christian Schmidt (CSU) in the Dlf. He also condemned Belgium for not passing on this information.
This is equivalent to a well poisoning.
Christian Schmidt in conversation with Sandra Schulz
Sandra Schulz: Fipronil helps very well against fleas, animal lice, ticks and also various mites. It is an insecticide, used in agriculture to protect the plants from insect infestations, also against fleas in the domestic dog or domestic cat. It is not foreseen and even forbidden to use fipronil in animals that deliver food that is eaten, for example, in laying hens. In fact, fipronil has entered the food chain there, probably via admixtures in detergents in Belgium, and in almost all German Länder contaminated eggs and poultry products have been detected. Yesterday, the first investigation against farmers in Germany was opened.
We can talk about this in the coming minutes, on the telephone is Christian Schmidt, CSU Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture. Good Morning!
Christian Schmidt: Good morning, Frau Schulz!
Schulz: Are the dimensions of this scandal already foreseeable?
Schmidt: As far as we can see so far, one thing is clear: the cause for the impact of eggs and processed products is criminal action, and it is therefore good that public prosecutors in Belgium, the Netherlands and now also in Germany with this Criminal activity and investigate and punish those responsible.
We have a monitoring system
Schulz: What have you done, what has the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture hitherto undertaken to prevent such deliveries from being repeated or that the activity is now going on like this?
Schmidt: It is, of course, true that we have a monitoring system, but that this can not be a hundred percent protection against fraud and criminal energy.We have been able to react to a European system that is basically working well, thanks to the information we have received from Belgium and the Netherlands too late. We are the covenant and the countries. We have launched our package of measures immediately after the announcement, the so-called event team has been established, there is a federal-state vote, and the companies, four in Germany, who used this Fipronil-displaced product, have been blocked.
Information must be passed on
Schulz: Did this early warning system work in this case, if the Belgians had first knowledge in June and even eggs were delivered in July or August?
Schmidt: You correctly address the problem. It can not be that a country in the European Union has information at the end of May, at the beginning of June, and does not pass on this information, in any case it does not spread to those who need to know it. Since I can not understand that one says, these are public prosecutions, which then prevent the passing on.
No, vice versa: Health protection and consumer protection always take precedence. Then prosecutor’s inquiries come. I must defend immediate danger, so the discussions that I have intensively conducted with the Dutch and Belgian colleagues have also been very intense and very clear. I have heard from both colleagues, however, that they are now very concerned about transparency not only but working on it energetically.
A matter for the EU
Schulz: But what do you have in mind for the future? The criticism of the authorities continues even in Belgium. We now have a situation in which all critics are fiercely criticized, but in which it is not at all clear what should change in the future?
Schmidt: I am not the one who organized the Belgian structures. The issue in Belgium, which has to be discussed and decided in Belgium. What I will do, however, is that we can make the European standards clear and clear. That is why I talked to the EU Commissioner, the Commissioner for Health, Andriukaitis. And I will bring this issue to the Council at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers. This is a matter of Europe, the EU, and not of individual Member States.
Schulz: What is going on with the issue that many consumers are discussing and that many consumers are also concerned, namely the contaminated egg products in processed foods? Is it already foreseeable to what extent there have been stresses?
Schmidt: We are going to carry out a monitoring, that is, the products are screened on the market. We can also pursue the way through the identification numbers where the eggs have been processed further. This possibility exists. The Dutch have given us the numbers and data in the meantime, at least as far as this is understandable for us, it may be that there are still further necessities. But these are checked, so the question of the noodles, the egg salad and so on, has been mixed with such eggs, then it must be from the market. These eggs and their products are not transportable, simple and simple. The other question is whether there is a real health hazard. There will be a corresponding assessment at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. They are working on these topics. Although it is likely that the dilution so to speak rather than with health risks is to be expected.
Schulz: That has been said again and again, but of course, you have just said, no argument that prohibited drugs come into the market.
Schmidt: No, Fipronil is not at all pure, and I really have to say clearly, there is no zero tolerance at this point, even with those who mix with criminal energy and thus stuff groceries, that is A crime and must also be so punished, without pardon.
Schulz: But now tell us again, Herr Schmidt, that sounds harsh, zero tolerance. But what does one notice it? If we now discuss this case, in which these criminal activities may have taken months already?
Schmidt: In the criminal acts that go back months – you can uncover what you can uncover. We do this with all our energy. And we will have the batch numbers at the companies that used this Fipronil in the Netherlands, and as far as the products are still on the market, they are on the market.
Do everything to make sure the products that are now on the market are gone
Schulz: Yes, but then I understand you correctly, your motto “zero tolerance” is then to be seen with the smear, “zero tolerance, if we remember it at all.”
Schmidt: Reverend Frau Schulz, that is the issue in every law enforcement.The one who drives at an excessive speed and is not flashed, you have zero tolerance. And yet you will not get him. I can not deliver that, no one can supply it, that can not be supplied by food inspectors. I can only deliver that we are really doing everything in the future, and the products that are now on the market are gone. For what moves you and me is the consumer’s trust.The consumer wants the product he is purchasing to be really good.
Schulz: You know as well as I do that there have also been cases of violations of the law, in which the CSU has drawn the conviction to call for violations.Do not do this now.
Schmidt: By the way, this is punishable as a crime by the Criminal Code and LFGB. This is equivalent to fountain poisoning. Since we have quite strong criminal. And the prosecutors will do theirs and then decide and accuse those who consider themselves responsible. I have great confidence in our law enforcement agencies.
Schulz: Federal Minister of Economics Christian Schmidt, CSU, this morning with us in the German radio. Thank you very much!
Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own conceptions. German radio does not adopt statements of its interlocutors in interviews and discussions.