Food businesses in the United Kingdom have been urged to rely on British eggs for surety of supply and food safety ahead of Brexit.

The British Lion Egg Processors (BLEP) said there are “serious question marks” over the future of imported eggs and egg products. The UK exits the European Union in March 2019. In the middle of 2016, UK voters decided to leave the EU in a referendum commonly referred to as the Brexit vote.

A poll commissioned by BLEP found 57 percent of shoppers would like to know where the eggs in prepared food they purchase come from. BLEP figures for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, showed the UK produced about 10.8 billion eggs, imported 1.9 billion eggs and exported 147 million eggs.

Research by OnePoll among 500 nationally representative adults in April this year showed more than two-thirds are concerned that the eggs in prepared products they buy are produced to different standards depending on which country they come from.

More than half were disappointed to learn that egg products in certain prepared foods are not British and almost half would think less of a supermarket that sold food which contained imported eggs.

European data shows Salmonella Enteritidis has been falling since 2007 when surveillance began and control measures in poultry were implemented.

However, the latest report on zoonotic diseases at the end of last year found the declining trend of salmonellosis cases in Europe had ended. Salmonella in eggs caused the most outbreak cases according to 2016 data.

The British Lion is a food safety project and more than 90 percent of UK eggs are now produced under it’s protocols. It claims to have reduced the presence of Salmonella in UK eggs since its launch in 1998.

All eggs that have the British Lion mark are produced under requirements of the British Lion Code of Practice. The code covers the production chain and includes the guarantee that hens are vaccinated against Salmonella. It also requires a passport system to ensure that all hens, eggs and feed are traceable.

The poll found almost two-thirds of UK shoppers would feel more confident buying egg products if they saw a Lion mark on the packaging and 44 percent would change the products they buy or where they shop if they found the eggs used did not have the British Lion mark.

“In these uncertain times, with the potential knock-on effects of Brexit on the supply of food imports still not clear, and recurring issues with the safety of eggs and egg products produced abroad, food businesses can put their trust in the Lion to guide them through safely,” said Ian Jones, chairman of British Lion Egg Processors (BLEP).

“With research also clearly showing that consumers want British eggs to be used in prepared foods containing egg, now is the time for food businesses to give them what they want, relying on the Lion for surety of supply and the highest standards of food safety.”

Meanwhile, the British Egg Industry Council has welcomed news that victims of a Salmonella outbreak in the UK linked to German eggs will be awarded £275,000 ($350,000).

A total of 28 people fell ill after eating at The Real China restaurant in Eastleigh, Hampshire, in July 2014. They were part of a European multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis from March to November 2014 associated with eating eggs. It involved more than 400 cases of infection from France, Luxembourg, Austria and the UK. Investigators linked the outbreak to a Bavarian egg producer.

“Food safety scares linked to non-UK eggs (are) a recurring issue, and while it’s good news that the victims of this outbreak have been awarded compensation, we hope it will encourage more caterers and consumers to look for the additional safety values of the Lion so it doesn’t happen again,” said Andrew Joret, British Egg Industry Council chairman.

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