Salmonella control - United Kingdom

In 1988 a junior health minister, Edwina Currie, made the statement "Most of our [UK] egg production is infected with Salmonella". The boycott of eggs and egg products by British consumers that followed almost destroyed the British egg producing industry.

In March 1989 new Salmonella legislation was announced:

  • Compulsory slaughter of Salmonella-infected poultry.
  • Compensation for infected flocks.
  • Stricter reporting requirements.
  • Testing of Poultry Flocks Order 1989.

In the following 4 years little improvement was seen in the incidence of Salmonella infections in poultry flocks.

In 1993 the Salmonella legislation was changed. The Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries Order 1993 was introduced. This order was confined to breeding stock. After 1993 the Salmonella situation began to improve.

Nobilis Salenvac was used for the initial vaccination of the Lion flock. Vaccination of breeders began in 1994 and vaccination of commercial layers in 1997.

Salmonella legislation is supported by codes of practice (COP). These are advisory and are not legal requirements.

The following COP support Salmonella legislation in the UK:

1. Assured Chicken Production Broiler Code of Practice

  • Test every broiler flock for Salmonella.
  • Establish source of Salmonella in positive flocks.
  • Special cleaning and disinfection to protect subsequent flocks.
  • Notify abattoir.

2. UFAS Feed Code of Practice

  • Monitoring of feed-mill environment.
  • Monitoring of ingredients.
  • Sourcing based on results.
  • Monitoring of finished feeds.
  • Cleaning and disinfection based on results.
  • Heat or acid treatment of certain feeds and high-risk ingredients.

3. Lion Code of Practice for Commercial Layers

In the 10 years following Edwina Currieā€™s statement, egg consumption in Britain declined dramatically. In 1989 the Lion Quality Code of Practice was launched with the objective of producing safe, Salmonella-free eggs for human consumption.

Key points of the Lion code:

  • Registration and traceability for the entire production chain.
  • Salmonella vaccination.
  • Hygiene, time and temperature controls.
  • ‘Best before’ date on shell and pack.
  • Independent auditing.
A selection of cracked eggs