The Lion scheme has effectively eradicated Salmonella Enteritidis in British eggs since its introduction in 1998. Nearly 90% of UK eggs are now produced within the Lion scheme and the British Lion is the UK's leading food safety mark with consumer recognition of more than 80% - double that of other comparable food quality marks.
In 2016, the Food Standards Agency announced a review of its advice on egg safety following a report by the the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food which concluded that British Lion eggs can safely be eaten runny, even by pregnant women, babies and elderly people. The report recommended that the FSA should amend its long-standing advice– that vulnerable groups should avoid raw or lightly cooked eggs – for eggs produced under the British Lion scheme or a demonstrably-equivalent comprehensive scheme. Watch the video on this page to see Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, explain what this new report means. In July 2016 the Food Standards Agency issued proposed new advice for consultation.
The Lion Code has been a great British success story. Within two years of the Lion Code of Practice launching in 1998, human cases of Salmonella had reduced dramatically.
In 2001 a Government committee (the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food) produced a report highlighting the effectiveness of poultry vaccination in reducing human Salmonella cases by more than half.
The status of UK egg production as among the safest in the world was confirmed in a report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2007.
The EFSA report analysed the results of an EU-wide survey which sampled and tested the environment on egg layer flock holdings. Several countries reported levels of Salmonella of public health significance on their flock holdings of more than 50%, while the UK figure was only 8%. 2012 figures have shown that, in the UK, the level of Salmonella of public health significance in laying flocks has fallen to 0.07%.
However, an FSA survey of imported eggs on sale in the UK, published in 2006, found egg shell and/or contents contamination in one in 30 boxes of six eggs sampled. HPA tests on imported eggs in 2004 found nearly 7% tested positive for Salmonella. In the same HPA investigation, Salmonella was not recovered from any British Lion eggs.