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BEIC issues warning over imported eggs

03/10/2005

The British Egg Industry Council has issued a stark warning to caterers in light of a number of prosecutions where food poisoning outbreaks have resulted from using imported eggs.

The latest prosecution is of Michelin-starred restaurant Chapter One,which was fined £3,000, and showed that Environmental Health Officers have increased the pressure on catering organisations to ensure that they meet their due diligence requirements.

Paul Lehane, Food Safety Manager, Bromley Council said: “The failure to purchase eggs from an approved supplier was serious because the restaurant used lightly-cooked eggs and they were putting customers atrisk.”   

This outbreak is not isolated: in 2002 there was a fatal outbreak of salmonella food poisoning and a further case in a central London café in 2004 – both of which have been traced back to outlets not using Lion eggs.
 
Whilst the majority of UK eggs are now produced under the stringent food safety conditions of the British Lion scheme, including vaccination of hens against salmonella, a significant number of eggs are still imported into the UK that are not produced to the same stringent food safety criteria as Lion eggs. The rigorous food safety standards which are incorporated within the Lion QualityCode of Practice, combined with proper handling and correct storage ofeggs, virtually eliminates the risk of contracting salmonella foodpoisoning from British Lion eggs.
 
Food safety expert, Professor Tom Humphrey from the University of Bristol, recently echoed the BEIC warning at a Health Protection Agency Conference in Liverpool: “We are very forward (in Britain) in terms of how well the egg industry has done.  Vaccination in laying hens has been supremely important as a preventative measure. But we have to accept that controls across the EU and other countries in the world are not the same.  It is vital that the salmonella controls in one country are not undermined by the importation of foods fromanother where intervention has not been so rigorous.”