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28 August 2017 00:36:51 |Agri Safety,News,Poultry,Produce

Egg scandals adding further weight for retailers to buy British


Public Health England has revealed that more than 160 cases of salmonella had been traced to Poland

Public Health England has revealed that more than 160 cases of salmonella had been traced to Poland

The fipronil scandal, along with the revelation that another surge of salmonella cases in the United Kingdom has been linked to Polish eggs, has added further weight to calls from the UK egg industry for retailers and processors to buy British.
Leading retailers have been forced to withdraw prepared foods from sale because of concerns that egg products contaminated with a banned pesticide make have been used.
The eggs were not produced in this country, but imported from the continent. Another 73 cases of salmonella found in the UK since February have been traced back to a Polish packing station.
Public Health England had already revealed, towards the end of last year, that more than 160 cases of salmonella had been traced to Poland.
Across the European Union more than 500 confirmed or probable cases in 14 countries have been connected to Poland in the last year.
The new revelations have prompted the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) to renew calls for Britain to source only British eggs.
“This is just the latest of a number of food safety issues connected to eggs produced outside of the UK in recent years," said Ian Jones, chairman of British Lion Egg Processors.
"Consumers clearly want retailers, caterers and food manufacturers to use good quality British ingredients that are produced to high standards of food safety, but in some prepared foods this is not the case."
Sourced from overseas
Whilst major supermarkets promote the fact that they source their shell eggs from British producers, the withdrawals following the fipronil scandal show that many eggs for processing are sourced from overseas.
Phil Jones accused the retailers of operating double standards: “The major retailers are operating to double standards when it comes to eggs. All of them stock British Lion shell eggs but they use imported eggs in many of their other foods containing eggs."
He said: “As we approach Brexit, shoppers are growing increasingly concerned about the ingredients used in manufactured food and now more than ever want and deserve transparency on food packaging.
“The egg industry believes that this is a great opportunity for retailers to listen to the concerns of their customers and reassure them by specifying the use of British eggs and using the ‘Made with British Lion eggs’ logo on packs.”
Robert Gooch, chief executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers' Association (BFREPA), also called for both retailers and manufacturers to buy British eggs produced under quality codes like Lion and Laid in Britain.
"British egg producers follow stringent production standards to ensure that what they produce is perfectly safe and nutritious for consumers to eat," he said.
"Consumers want safe, traceable food and we have ready-made schemes which delivers that in the form of the British Lion Code and Lain in Britain."
Health scares
Egg imports have been connected with a series of food and health scares over recent years.
In 2011 the Health Protection Agency confirmed that 136 cases of salmonella had been traced back to a farm in Spain.
The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) pointed out at the time that the outbreak was the latest in a long line of food poisoning outbreaks associated with imported eggs.
It said there was 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. One third of the Spanish eggs used by the cafe tested positive for salmonella.
An outbreak in a restaurant in Kent in 2005 was also linked to Spanish eggs after owners purchased a batch of eggs from an unapproved supplier.
In 2009 several outbreaks took place in England involving a strain of salmonella (salmonella enteritidis PT 14b NxCpl) which has not been found in egg-laying flocks in Great Britain.
Use only British
In 2015 the BEIC again urged retailers, caterers and food manufacturers to play safe and use only British eggs, following a high profile salmonella poisoning scandal in the United States.
A judge in the state of Iowa handed out jail sentences to a well-known egg company boss and his son for their part in a scandal that left thousands of consumers ill with salmonella poisoning.
Austin DeCoster, his son Peter DeCoster and their company, Quality Egg, had entered guilty pleas as part of a plea agreement after being charged with a series of offences following investigations into a nationwide salmonella outbreak.
It is estimated that more than 56,000 consumers may have been affected by the outbreak.
Quality Egg admitted that eggs were falsely labelled to disguise their age and that a US Department of Agriculture inspector had been bribed to approve poor quality eggs for sale.
Dioxin in eggs
Last years salmonella cases in the UK were traced back to Poland as a result of laboratory testing and Public Health England has now confirmed that the Polish salmonella problem has re-emerged.
Salmonella is not the only health issue connected with foreign eggs. In 2011 and 2012 high levels of dioxin were found in eggs from Germany.
Nearly 5,000 German farms were temporarily closed in 2011 as a result of dioxin contamination. There was a European Union-wide alert when contaminated eggs produced in Germany were traced to other countries.
In the United Kingdom, supermarkets removed suspect products from their shelves after contaminated eggs found their way into the cakes and quiches of two British food manufacturers.
The spread of dioxin was traced to animal feed. Fats not intended for food use were used in animal feed for pigs and poultry.
German authorities subsequently made revisions to the country's food safety laws and placed restrictions on animal feed ingredients.
New regulations
The European Union also introduced new regulations to prevent a similar outbreak in future, but in April 2012 high levels of dioxin were found in eggs on a farm in North Rhine Westphalia.
Contaminated eggs were also found on two farms near the city of Duisburg and two poultry farms in the northern German state of Lower Saxony were also affected. High levels of dioxin were also found in eggs on another farm in North Rhine Westphalia.
The current fipronil scandal is another crisis that has been brought into Britain as a result of egg imports.
Whilst well over 100 farms in the Netherlands were shut down after apparently being treated for red mite with the banned chemical, the Food Standards Agency said there was no evidence that the chemical had been used on British production units.
The BEIC has again called for retailers and processors to play sale and ensure that they buy British eggs.



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