Salmonella in More Than 20% of EU Poultry

Some EU countries may impose import restrictions after new report that other countries have high infection rates

More than a fifth of Europe's poultry flocks are infected with Salmonella, a new report shows – prompting some member states to consider imposing import restrictions on poultry products from other EU states.

In some EU countries more than half of the chicken farms are infected with Salmonella, the study by the Parma-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found in a preliminary report.

In the Czech Republic, 62 percent of major poultry farms were infected, while 55 percent in Poland and 51 percent in Spain were contaminated with the bacteria.

Sweden and Luxembourg, on the other hand, had the best results both with 0 percent, followed by Finland on 0.4 percent and Denmark with 1.2 percent infected cases.

Sweden and Finland have a total ban on imports of meat with traces of salmonella.

The EU food safety body surveyed almost 5,000 poultry farms between October 2004 and September 2005 and its final report will be published in October.

MEMBER STATES TAKE ACTION. Andrew Joret, deputy chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, called for sub-standard eggs to be banned from British shores.

"We believe that imports of eggs into the UK should be banned unless they have been produced to the standards required by the British Lion scheme, including vaccination of hens against salmonella, a best-before date on every egg and full traceability of eggs, hens and feed," he said.

The Spanish ministry of agriculture together with a Spanish association of poultry farmers assured on Thursday (15 June) that "Spanish eggs are safe and they do not represent a risk for the consumers," adding that the report looked for traces of salmonella in the dust and in the excrement of the hens.

The EFSA report says contaminated hens do not always transfer the salmonella bacteria to their eggs.

Denmark is considering enacting restrictions to stop meat infected with the bacteria from being imported from other European Union countries, after salmonella was found in German poultry sold in Danish supermarkets earlier this month.

Currently many salmonella-infected products are allowed under EU regulations because people are expected to cook raw meat before they eat it, and cooking kills salmonella, Ireland Online reports.

Danish authorities say 35,000 Danes became ill with salmonella in 2005 and 20 of them died.

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