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Thursday, June 18, 1998 Published at 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK


Health

Chickens to be vaccinated against salmonella

Will the public flock to buy eggs?

Millions of chickens are to be vaccinated against salmonella this summer in a bid restore public confidence in eggs.

The egg farming industry says it is still feeling the effect of a health scare almost a decade ago when the then health minister Edwina Curry warned that eggs were unsafe as most were contaminated with the bacteria.

Slaughter infected birds

The government reacted to the scare by launching a drive to identify and slaughter infected birds, but the move failed to prevent a gradual rise in human infection over the last decade.


[ image: 20m chickens to be vaccinated]
20m chickens to be vaccinated
The vaccination of the first batch of 20 million chickens will cost £4m, but farmers hope the cost will be more than recouped by increased public consumption of eggs.

The programme should be completed by early next year.

Essex farmer David Humphrey, deputy chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, said: "Those people who have been a little bit reluctant with the warnings issued about eggs will be able to go back again to eating soft boiled eggs and dipping their soldiers in them in the most enjoyable fashion."

Restore public confidence

Norfolk poultry vet Stephen Lister said: "The problem of salmonella infection in eggs has always been overstated, but the use of a vaccine is another improvement that should help to restore public confidence in eggs."

However, some independent producers say they are not taking part in the vaccination campaign arguing that it is an expensive waste of time.

Cambridgeshire farmer Robin Page said: "I think it is foolish. If we look for the increase in salmonella in our food it is the way people are cooking their food. They are not cooking it properly, or preparing it properly.

"For hundreds and hundreds of years people have eaten chicken and they have not had salmonella. I think it is a nonsense."



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