I’m reeling from current happenings. Both the mass shooting at MSU and the train wreck and unfolding environmental disaster in East Palestine OH are very much on my mind. I’m worried about what has happened since I last checked social media as I’ve already reduced my news intake to the merest minimum.
Turning to some positive food safety news for this week’s article.
After our discussion about egg food systems, I had two further questions and thoughts. One was about how to use egg shells and stop them going into the landfill and the other was to explore more about Salmonella in eggs and the fact that it is no longer a serious food safety concern in the UK.
The US Centers for Disease Control recommend that we avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs and that we cook eggs to a minimum temperature of 160 F (71 C).
This is because chickens and other live poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria and these germs may spread from the birds to their eggs. The potential contamination of eggs with Salmonella is one reason we mustn’t eat raw cookie dough.
I had accepted that Salmonella in eggs was an unpreventable situation, unless egg producers put a lot of effort into raising their hens in what was essentially a clean room, there seemed to be no way to prevent Salmonella. This seemed especially true for pasture-raised hens, as salmonella and other pathogenic bacteria are naturally present in the soil.
However, Salmonella is no longer considered a food safety problem in British and many European eggs. I find that very hard to write. We can have eggs guaranteed to be Salmonella-free! British people can eat runny eggs and not take their lives in their hands.
How did the British egg producers do this?
British Lion and Egg Safety
All eggs in the UK produced under the British Lion Code of Practice are stamped with the British Lion Mark. The code of practice covers the entire production chain including vaccinating the hens against Salmonella, ensuring supply chain controls, controlling access to flocks by birds and people.
All farms, under the British Lion scheme, are independently audited and consumers can trace back their eggs to their original farm. There is a farm number on the egg which can be identified at this website.
Introduced in the UK in 1998, by 2012 the level of Salmonella in laying flocks had fallen to 0.07%.
This wasn’t cheap to implement and farmers and egg producers have invested more than £100 million to ensure safety using a scheme that goes above and beyond the UK and EU regulations.
I sound like an ad for British Lion eggs. My mind is blown. Poof! We could have salmonella-free eggs.
The British Lion code of practice is not a government scheme as it is an initiative of the British Egg Industry Council.
We could have this in the US if egg producers wanted. The American Egg Board could start a similar initiative.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
In the meantime, in the US, if you eat eggs or use eggs in manufactured products, make sure that you treating them as a hazardous material. They can make you and your customers sick. Eat runny eggs at your own risk.
Who Writes Food Crumbs?
Cathy Davies runs a food safety consultancy, Food Safety Mid Atlantic, supporting specialty food businesses with their food safety plans and programs. If you are interested in learning more about my consulting services, please schedule a free call.
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