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Monday, November 2, 1998 Published at 11:38 GMT


Eggheads unscramble quality code

The aim of the new code of practice is to boost consumer confidence in eggs

The egg industry is introducing a new code of practice and chicken "passports" to protect the public against salmonella.

The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) is behind the new code of practice which includes a Lion quality mark on egg boxes which will show that they have been vaccinated against salmonella.

In addition to the £4m vaccination programme, there will also be a "passport" system for hens which will ensure each bird and its eggs can be traced.

And the code of practice will introduce new hygiene controls on egg farms and packing centres as well as date coding of all Lion eggs.

The code will cover 70% of the UK egg market which already use Lion quality marks.

Consumer confidence

The quality marks were introduced around 10 years ago and manufacturers subscribe to them on a voluntary basis.

[ image: Edwina Currie alerted the public about salmonella risk]
Edwina Currie alerted the public about salmonella risk
In return, they are allowed to put the Lion mark on their egg boxes.

The new code is a "huge reworking" of the old one and is designed to improve consumer confidence.

Andrew Joret, vice-chairman of the BEIC, said: "Recent developments in vaccination mean that we can virtually eliminate salmonella in eggs."

Microbiologist and food safety campaign Professor Richard Lacey welcomed the move and said the code addressed "all the key food safety issues relating to eggs".

Salmonella usually affects the stomach, causing nausea, diarrhoea and pain, but rarely kills.

The low point in public confidence in eggs came in the 1980s when Edwina Currie, then Health Secretary, said that the majority of British eggs were infected with salmonella.

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