Egg production in the UK has been confirmed as among the safest in the world, according to an EU survey.

The survey tested the environment (not the hens or eggs) of egg-laying flock holdings between October 2004 and September 2005. Nearly 90% of UK holdings were found to be completely free of salmonella, putting the UK among the best in Europe.

The EU findings support evidence of the dramatic fall in human cases of salmonella in the UK that has seen a two-thirds reduction since the British Lion Quality scheme was introduced in 1998. They also backed a 2004 Food Standards Agency survey that found no salmonella in 28,000 British eggs.

Other European countries are continuing to experience outbreaks of salmonella, in contrast with the UK. There have also been outbreaks in the UK directly linked with imported eggs.

UK egg producers have invested more than £36m in the British Lion scheme since it was introduced, according to the British Egg Industry Council. Some 85% of British eggs are produced under the scheme.