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Salmonella in Spanish eggs

21/07/2011

The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has issued a warning to caterers to look for the British Lion mark in light of new Health Protection Agency reports of salmonella associated with Spanish eggs.

In the latest of a long line of food poisoning outbreaks associated with imported eggs, more than 100 cases of salmonella food poisoning have been reported across England, Wales and the Isle of Man.

Caterers have been warned previously about Spanish eggs and the BEIC is urging caterers to avoid the risks associated with salmonella by specifying the British Lion standard.

The outbreak follows a fatal outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in 2002, which was also linked to Spanish eggs.  In 2004, Spanish eggs were linked to a food poisoning outbreak at a café in central London, with one-third of the Spanish eggs used by the café testing positive for salmonella. An outbreak in a restaurant in Kent in 2005 was also linked to Spanish eggs after owners purchased a batch of Spanish eggs from an unapproved supplier. In 2009, several outbreaks took place in England involving a strain of salmonella, S. Enteritidis PT 14b NxCpl, which has not been found in egg-laying flocks in Great Britain.

Most major supermarkets stock only British Lion eggs which are produced to the highest food safety standards. The British Lion Code of Practice includes vaccination of hens against salmonella.

Andrew Parker, Chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, said:  “It is unbelievable that British consumers are still being put at risk by imported eggs.  There are plenty of high quality British eggs available, yet UK caterers think that it’s OK to risk their customers’ health by buying cheap, infected, imported eggs.  When will they learn that it’s just not worth it?

“The British egg industry, through the Lion mark, has invested heavily in ensuring that the eggs we sell to consumers are safe, yet we are constantly undermined by eggs that come into the country which are not fit to eat.  Caterers should be using due diligence and ensuring that they only serve eggs which conform to Lion standards.”