The safety of quails' eggs - served at trendy dinner parties - is being questioned after tests discovered illegal contamination by antibiotics.
Safety checks have revealed that 15 per cent of quails' eggs, which were tested at random last year, had unsafe levels of potentially hazardous antibiotics in them.
To the alarm of safety experts, two samples were tainted with the drug dimetridazole (DMZ), which was banned in Europe years ago.
Another 12 samples contained illegal amounts of nicarbazin, which is used by poultry farmers to promote growth. A further five tests found lasalocid, which is toxic to animals and suspected of causing heart problems.
Several of Britain's health watchdogs - the Food Safety Agency (FSA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society - have launched an investigation into the issue.
Chris Waters, chairman of Fayre Game, the UK's largest quail egg producer, said "What's concerning for me is that these components being found mean the birds are being exposed to them."
Health experts suspect that feed companies add antibiotics to feed on a vet's instructions. In other cases, smaller egg producers simply fail to follow procedures.
But Richard Young, a poultry expert for organic campaigners the Soil Association, claimed the industry could avoid many of these drugs by using vaccination. It refused to do so, however, because of the extra costs. "The industry is trying to cut corners where ever it can," he said.
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