Also On POLITICO Egg scandal spirals into political test for Belgium By Simon Marks, Emmet Livingstone and Jakob Hanke Vela Belgium admits test results show harmful level of fipronil in eggs By Simon Marks Belgium reconfigured its system for handling food safety concerns after a crippling dioxin scandal nearly 20 years ago. Its parliament Wednesday grilled Agriculture Minister Denis Ducarme and Health Minister Maggie De Block about the handling of the case during an emergency session.Lawmakers lambasted the two ministers for not reacting more quickly to the health scare and raised questions about why Belgian food safety authorities had not promptly informed the Cabinet.PoultryVision, a Belgian company, sold its fipronil-laced product mostly to ChickFriend, a Dutch company, which travels around the Netherlands and Belgium delousing chicken coops.Conducting tests on eggs earlier was “not possible when a country like the Netherlands, one of the biggest egg exporters in the world, does not share its information,” Ducarme said. “I wrote to my Dutch colleague to ask him to explain the absence of exchanges of information throughout the month.”Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (AFSCA) also said the delay was because the Netherlands wasn’t forthcoming with information.”Considering that the businesses [selling fipronil] are located in the Netherlands, information and support were immediately requested from the Dutch food safety authority NVWA. This support was obtained slowly and with difficulty after three weeks,” AFSCA said. “Belgian investigators, therefore, had to work in the dark and had to develop alternative approaches in order to substantiate their inquiries.” The Dutch government said it would issue an official statement later Wednesday in response to the Belgian accusations.AFSCA’s timeline does not explain what happened immediately after June 2. Belgium did not sound the EU-wide alarm immediately that day because the tests showing fipronil in Belgian eggs came from a private company, rather than being commissioned and checked by the government. Belgium passed its first warning to The Hague on June 15.On June 19, AFSCA said it asked Dutch food safety authority NVWA for information concerning a Dutch company supplying fipronil to Belgian egg producers, according to an internal report obtained by POLITICO. It said it didn’t receive a response until June 28.AFSCA said the information was incomplete, forcing it to make an official request to the Netherlands via the EU’s so-called Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System for food fraud on July 6.It was only after a Belgian judge took up the case on July 20 and asked the Dutch for a full list of companies affected by fipronil in Belgium that AFSCA received the information it needed to conduct official health checks.Muddying the waters still further, Ducarme said the Belgians had seen an internal Dutch government report that fipronil had been found in eggs in the Netherlands as early as November 2016. Belgian authorities are seeking to pin the blame for an international scandal over toxic eggs onto the Netherlands.Over the past two weeks, Belgium has been under fire over the speed of its reaction to the discovery of a poison called fipronil that was introduced into the EU food chain by a small company in Flanders, which makes a cleaning product for chicken coops to kill chicken mites. The contamination led to the closure of hundreds of poultry farms and blocked the sale of tens of millions of eggs across Northern Europe.Belgium first received information that fipronil, which can cause liver damage in humans, contaminated eggs in the country on June 2. It waited until July 20 to inform European partners of the health scare via the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed.