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New EU Salmonella Report Good News for UK Eggs

28/01/2010

‘Look for the Lion’ says BEIC

The status of UK egg production as among the safest in the world has been reinforced by the results of the latest EU Salmonella report, with 99% of UK egg-laying flocks shown to be clear of salmonella in tests conducted during 2008 – the best results among the EU’s major egg-producing countries.

“The UK remains well ahead of the major European egg producing countries in terms of egg safety, so the clear message is ‘Look for the Lion’ ”, says Andrew Parker, Chairman of the British Egg Industry Council.  “We have already effectively eliminated salmonella from British Lion eggs, and the results of these environmental samples are a great credit to the UK egg industry, reflecting its huge investment in salmonella control.” 

A similar EU report in 2006 showed that the UK was already the best country in Europe with a large national laying flock, with salmonellas of public health significance found on just 8% of flock holdings.  The UK was set a modest target of a 10% year-on-year reduction and has met this with ease, with just 1% of flocks testing positive in 2008.  Those countries found to have higher levels of salmonella in the 2006 report were set higher percentage reduction targets, and it is likely to take a number of years before their levels of salmonella reduce to those in the UK.

More than 85% of UK eggs are produced under the British Lion Quality scheme, introduced in 1998.  UK egg producers have invested more than £40 million in the scheme, which stipulates vaccination of hens against salmonella in addition to a range of other food safety measures. 

Human salmonella cases in the UK have reduced dramatically since the introduction of the British Lion Quality scheme, although there have been outbreaks among humans in the UK directly linked with imported eggs.

“We believe that all eggs imported into the UK should be produced to the standards required by the British Lion scheme, including vaccination of hens against salmonella, a best-before date on every egg and full traceability of eggs, hens and feed,” says Andrew Parker.

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Notes to editors:

Data taken from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Annual Report on Zoonoses and Food-borne outbreaks for 2008.