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Gold Standard for British Lion

11/12/2008

The Code of Practice for British Lion eggs has been significantly upgraded, with enhanced salmonella controls and improved traceability, to confirm its place as the UK and EU’s pre-eminent food assurance scheme. 

The latest requirements include stringent new auditing procedures, improved salmonella testing and increased biosecurity.

The Code of Practice, which is formally accredited to the EN 45011 auditing standard, is being re-issued to all 1,600 Lion scheme members in a new, more easily accessible format linking the Code requirements with guidance notes and audit forms.

The Lion mark, first introduced by the British Egg Marketing Board in 1957, was relaunched by the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) in 1998, to represent the highest standards in UK egg production and to effectively eliminate salmonella from UK eggs. The Code covers all stages of egg production and requirements include compulsory vaccination against salmonella enteritidis of all pullets destined for Lion-egg producing flocks; controls on feed; testing of hens, eggs and feed; a ‘best before’ date stamped on the egg shell; extensive on-farm and packing station hygiene controls; and independent auditing.

The Lion Code of Practice has been updated regularly to incorporate emerging research findings but the latest changes are the most comprehensive yet.

New additions to the Code include:

· Improved salmonella testing, including additional and more sensitive environmental tests

· More stringent auditing, including unannounced audits of all Lion packing centres and new penalties including financial penalties for critical non-conformances

· Improved traceability, including an expanded ‘live’ database of all BEIC scheme members; a register of wholesale traded eggs

· Improved traceability of Lion flocks through an updated passport system

· A website for consumers to trace eggs back to the farm from the code on their eggs.

BEIC Chairman Andrew Parker commented: “This major upgrade of the Lion Code of Practice will ensure that we maintain its position as a world-leading food assurance scheme. The Lion scheme has made significant progress since its launch just over 10 years ago. Not only is it held in high regard by opinion formers and legislators, but it has also been a marketing success, with Lion egg sales rising consistently over the past decade and the retail egg market remaining overwhelmingly supplied by British producers.  We remain the envy of other agricultural sectors, both for the high standards of the scheme itself and for the investment in marketing support that has ensured its commercial success.“

More than 85% of UK eggs are produced under the British Lion Quality scheme and the egg industry has invested more than £50 million in the scheme since 1998. The Lion scheme has been largely responsible for the dramatic reduction in human cases of salmonella in the UK in recent years - a Food Standards Agency survey in 2004 found no salmonella in 28,000 British eggs tested and the status of UK egg production as among the safest in the world was confirmed in a 2007 European Food Safety Authority report.