Catering Scotland

For Safe British Eggs, Look Out For The Lion

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For Safe British Eggs, Look Out For The Lion

October 21
20:07 2013
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The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) recently issued an updated memo warning that caterers should insist on the British Lion mark to ensure they are using legal eggs produced to the highest levels of food safety.

 While dioxin contamination in both eggs and egg products has occurred across the EU over the past decade, the introduction of the Lion mark has meant there have been no such cases in British Lion eggs or egg products.

The Lion scheme has also been largely responsible for the dramatic reduction in human cases of salmonella in the UK in recent years. Indeed, a 2004 Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey found no traces of the bacteria in 28,000 British eggs tested, whereas FSA surveys of imported eggs have found significant levels of contamination.

The scheme includes vaccination of all pullets which produce Lion eggs, a Code of Practice for the feed, complete traceability of hens, eggs and feed, and independent auditing. However, despite ongoing food safety concerns, many caterers continue to risk their reputation by sourcing imported eggs and egg products.

Andrew Parker, chairman of the BEIC, believes the Lion Scheme provides caterers with an unparalleled level of assurance: ‘The British Lion Code of Practice assures those who specify Lion egg products that what they have purchased is produced to the highest food safety and welfare standards,’ he explains. ‘By informing consumers that your eggs are Lion-assured, you can communicate unequivocally that they’re safe and of a high quality.’

Meanwhile, the EU’s Welfare of Laying Hens Directive, which came into force on 1st January this year, rendered it illegal to sell eggs and egg products made from eggs produced in conventional barren battery cages The directive – intended to further improve the welfare of laying hens – includes the provision of new, enriched cages with more space, a nesting area, litter for scratching and perches for the hens.

Consequently, British Lion egg producers have invested £400m to upgrade production units, so that all British Lion hens are now kept in larger, enriched colony cages, or in alternative systems such as free range areas, barns and organic surroundings.

However, many producers in several EU countries have not met the crucial January deadline and it is estimated that more than 50m EU hens – between them producing more than 40m eggs each day – are still in conventional battery cages.

As a result, illegal battery cage eggs may be on sale across the EU, which makes the need for quality assurance even more relevant.

For, not only does the Lion mark guarantee that the new obligations for legally produced eggs are met, it also ensures the highest standards of food safety. According to Andrew, the BEIC is now urging caterers to ensure they are supplied with a source of legally produced eggs:

‘For the safety of consumers it is essential that chefs and caterers ensure they purchase certified eggs,’ he concludes.

‘For peace of mind, and to avoid being exposed as a user of eggs from banned battery cages, buyers should always look for the Lion.’

The BEIC has launched a new website – www.legaleggs.com – and is calling for caterers to sign its pledge to support British egg producers and help keep illegal eggs out of the UK market.

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The lowly egg plays an integral part in menus throughout the country, yet despite the introduction of strict monitoring and established minimum standards, many caterers are still failing to recognise the importance of meeting the required quality levels. Andrew Parker asks what needs to be done to protect consumers from the danger of uncertified eggs…

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Andrew Parker, Chairman, BEIC

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Catering Scotland

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