Ireland's egg industry declared Salmonella free

IRELAND - A regulatory effort to reduce Salmonella contamination throughout Ireland's food chain is beginning to pay off in the egg sector.
calendar icon 13 April 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Results of a survey commissioned by safefood have shown that eggs produced on the island of Ireland are almost totally free from Salmonella. Just two egg samples from over 5,000 samples surveyed contained Salmonella in the shell. No egg contents were contaminated.

In the 1980s, the number of human cases of Salmonella Enteritidis rose dramatically. This was followed by the introduction of legislation, industry codes of practice and quality assurance schemes to control Salmonella in laying flocks. It resulted in a decrease in the incidence of Salmonella in Great Britain and on the island of Ireland.

David McCleery, Chief Specialist in Microbiology with, safefood said “This study looked at the prevalence of Salmonella in eggs on the island of Ireland and compared two approaches to Salmonella control, which were introduced after the rise in Salmonella Enteritidis during the 1980s. In Northern Ireland, a vaccination regime was adopted, while in the Republic of Ireland, controls based on routine monitoring for Salmonella and subsequent culling of infected flocks was introduced. The study found that both methods are equally effective in controlling salmonellas.”

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, UCD and Strathclyde University analysed over 5,000 samples of six varieties of eggs from flocks north and south of the border, with 30,000 eggs examined in total. The survey yielded only two positive samples, with Salmonella Infantis and Salmonella Montevideo isolated from shells. No egg contents yielded salmonellas. The prevalence was significantly lower than the findings in a recent major UK survey.

Martin Higgins, Chief Executive, safefood said “The continued decrease in the prevalence of Salmonella Enteritidis in laying flocks on the island of Ireland is very encouraging. The results of this study show that the two methods for controlling Salmonella on the island of Ireland are equally effective in reducing the prevalence in eggs. Infections from Salmonella in the human population are therefore unlikely to result from eating eggs that have been produced on the island of Ireland.”

Consumers should be reminded that eggs with damaged or visibly dirty shells should not be consumed as eggs are porous and bacteria can enter the egg through the egg shell.

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