In August 2017, one of the largest global food recalls began across Europe in which millions of eggs were recalled from many supermarket shelves. It was discovered that the eggs could contain the harmful insecticide Fipronil and that the contamination had originated in Belgium and the Netherlands. Fipronil is a substance that is used in veterinary medicines to combat fleas, mites and ticks in dogs and cats and is not permitted for use in animals that are intended for the food chain, such as chickens. Reacting to this outbreak, leading government food safety officials ascertained that at least 15 countries across Europe, spreading to many other continents globally had been affected. The contamination left many consumers not only questioning the safety of eggs purchased but also the speed at which EU regulators reacted to this event.

In response to this outbreak, Northern Ireland company; Biorex Food Diagnostics started development for a unique Fipronil immunoassay test that egg producers could use in house, actively ensuring that the risk of a similar outbreak is reduced. The Diagnostic company, active since October 2014, has grown considerably and specializes in food and feed screening kits for a range of prohibited substances such as antibiotics, growth hormones, mycotoxins and now pesticides.

Research and Development Manager Ms Nicola Kane commented “The Fipronil contamination in eggs highlighted to us that there was a need to regularly test eggs for the presence of this banned insecticide. Expediting the development of this test, we will be soon releasing a kit that gives egg producers the ability to test 42 samples in their own facilities with test results available within 75mins”.

On the 26th September, a Ministerial Conference of the EU Commission and the Member States meeting concluded that a “coordinated EU-wide monitoring plan on the presence of illegally used substances in eggs and poultry meat has been finalised for immediate implementation.” The commission also stated that “Member States will encourage the food business operators and branch organisation representing these food business operators in their country to implement or improve existing self-monitoring programs on sectoral level”.

Managing Director of Biorex Food Diagnostics Dr Morteza Afrasiabi stated: “Based on the recommendations of the recent ministerial conference, our Fipronil ELISA test kit will give food business operators the ability to set up or strengthen their own in house testing using our kits. This test will give rapid test results, reduce expensive outsource testing as well as improve self-monitoring plans”

Biorex Food Diagnostics will be releasing the Fipronil test kit for sale in November 2017. The kit will be the only commercially available Fipronil Immunoassay for Egg samples Worldwide, it will most certainly provide a cost effective screening test for both, egg producers and food safety laboratories.