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FOOD STANDARDS AGENCY STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF ENSURING EGG SAFETY

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Following several recent outbreaks of salmonella linked to the use of eggs,...
Following several recent outbreaks of salmonella linked to the use of eggs,

the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is reiterating its advice and issuing

guidance on the safe handling and cooking of eggs. This information is

being targeted at local authority and contract caterers. The agency's

advice is particularly important for caterers preparing food for groups

most vulnerable to the salmonella bug, such as the elderly, young children

and the sick.

The recent outbreaks, which are still continuing, have resulted in two

deaths in the north-west of England. Emerging evidence suggests that not

all food businesses and institutions are following the agency's advice on

egg safety and could be putting people at risk.

A new FSA leaflet on egg safety for catering staff will be widely

distributed free to over 400,000 premises and agencies across the UK,

including catering managers in schools and residential homes.

Dr Roger Skinner, head of microbiological safety at the FSA, said:

'People catering for vulnerable groups in a range of institutions need to

be aware of the importance of handling and cooking eggs safely. So do all

caterers who use eggs. No eggs can be guaranteed to be salmonella-free,

whatever the source or brand. There is a smaller chance that eggs from

vaccinated flocks will contain salmonella, but care still needs to be

taken. It's always best to buy eggs from a reputable supplier.'

The new FSA leaflet will contain the following advice on egg safety:

- Keep eggs away from other foods, when they are still in the shell and

when they are cracked open.

- Don't use damaged or dirty eggs.

- Be careful not to splash raw egg onto other foods, surfaces or dishes.

- Cook eggs and foods containing eggs thoroughly.

- Use pasteurised egg for raw or lightly cooked foods.

- Always wash and dry hands thoroughly after touching eggs or working with

them.

- Clean food areas, dishes and utensils thoroughly, using warm soapy

water, after working with eggs.

- Serve egg dishes straight away, or cool them quickly and keep chilled.

Cooking eggs properly is essential as this effectively kills any bacteria.

But good hygiene practises will also prevent the spreading of salmonella

around the kitchen and onto other foods. Salmonella can be present on the

shell as well as inside the eggs.

The use of pasteurised egg is particularly important where foods are

uncooked or only lightly cooked, such as mayonnaise, bearnaise and

hollandaise sauces, some salad dressings, ice cream, icing, mousse,

tiramisu and other desserts containing eggs. Pasteurised egg can be bought

frozen, or in liquid or powder form.

For more information please check the agency's website www.food.gov.uk or

if you would like a copy of the Egg Safety leaflet contact FSA Publications

on 0845 606 0667 or minicom 0845 606 0678 or email

foodstandards@eclogistics.co.uk

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