Salmonella and Raw Shell Eggs: Results of a Cross-Sectional Study of Contamination Rates and Egg Safety Practices in the United Kingdom Catering Sector in 2003

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This study was prompted by epidemiological investigations of the unusual number of Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks associated with the use of eggs in catering premises in England and Wales during 2002. The aims of the study, performed between April and May 2003, were to establish the rate of Salmonella contamination in raw shell eggs from catering premises, investigate any correlation between the origin and type of eggs and the presence of particular serotypes or phage types (PTs) of Salmonella, and examine the use of raw shell eggs in catering premises in the United Kingdom. A total of 34,116 eggs (5,686 pooled samples of six eggs) were collected from 2,104 catering premises, most of which were eggs produced in the United Kingdom (88%). Salmonella was isolated from 17 pools (0.3%) of eggs. Of these, 15 were Salmonella Enteritidis, which were further characterized to PTs as follows: PT6 (0.1%), PT4 (0.07%), PT12 (0.04%), PT1 (0.04%), and PT14b (0.02%). Salmonella Livingstone and Salmonella Typhimurium definitive type 7 resistant to ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfonamides, and tetracycline were also isolated. The Salmonella contamination rate of eggs produced in the United Kingdom appears to have decreased significantly since 1995 and 1996. This trend is reflected in the decrease of Salmonella Enteritidis and, in particular, Salmonella Enteritidis PT4. The impact of the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency's advice on the use of eggs, issued in January 2003, is discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Environmental Surveillance Unit, Health Protection Agency Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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