Midday Express, 5 January 2009
As of January 1 2009 all eggs from flocks of laying hens, not monitored for the presence of Salmonella or found positive to Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium, can not be sold as table eggs but must be processed as egg products and pasteurised in order to eliminate all risks for consumers. In particular, the measure is expected to reduce considerably the number of human salmonellosis infections.
Restrictions on table eggs from flocks of layers infected with Salmonella were first adopted in 2003 through Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the control of Salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents. Initially, the restrictions were to enter into force at the end of 2009. However, high Salmonella prevalence was recorded in flocks during an EU survey in 2005-2006, and in 2007 it was decided to accelerate the regulations' enforcement. Commission Regulation (EC) No 1237/2007 set January 1 2009 as the new date to enforce these restrictions.
According to the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) annual reports on the monitoring of zoonoses, eggs and egg products are responsible for more than half of all outbreaks of human salmonellosis in the EU where the source of infection was demonstrated. More than 95% of these infections are caused by Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium. Monitoring for Salmonella is mandatory in flocks of laying hens since the beginning of 2008. Since then, whenever Salmonella was detected, measures had to be taken to eliminate the infection from the farm. However, trade restrictions were not systematically applied. Because eggs constitute one of the major sources of human salmonellosis, it is expected that these measures will reduce considerably the number of cases of infection.
The measures also apply to eggs imported from third countries. Only Croatia, Norway and Switzerland have provided equivalent guarantees on the safety of eggs. Therefore, only imports of table eggs from these countries are authorised in the EU.