British Lion Eggs has launched version seven of its code of practice, marking 15 years of the scheme.
It was first launched 10 years after then health minister Edwina Currie’s famous comments about Britain’s egg production being infected with the salmonella bacteria.
The new version of the code comprises 200 pages, and more than 700 auditable criteria. It aims to consolidate the very latest scientific, veterinary and food safety advice on producing and handling eggs, in order to ensure the highest levels of food safety.
New criteria for the farms includes the need for a hygiene monitoring programme to be completed before replacement birds are taken onto the farm, while in terms of animal welfare there will be an increased number of flock inspections, and earlier access to range for free-range hens.
The Salmonella Typhimurium vaccination will also be compulsory, and there will be improved enforcement criteria.
Since the launch of the scheme, egg consumption has returned to its highest level since the salmonella crisis. Mark Williams, chief executive of the British Egg Industry Council, told British Baker: “It has raised the bar again, consolidating all the amendments we’ve made since the previous code.”
However, he added: “There is still more to do.”
He said there was also more demand from food manufacturers for Lion eggs, due to customer demand.
Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, said: “The introduction of the Lion Code of Practice 15 years ago has effectively eliminated salmonella and restored consumer confidence in British eggs, with consumption now at the highest level for more than two decades.”
Nearly 90% of UK eggs are now produced within the Lion scheme, with a high percentage of people recognising the Lion egg mark and what it means. Recent research revealed that 86% knew it meant that the eggs were British and 83% knew it was a guarantee of quality.