CATERERS AT THE House of Commons have been criticised for causing alarm over the consumption of British eggs, after banning them from the Parliament kitchens.
Reports have emerged that liquid Dutch eggs are used in place of British shell eggs in dishes such as omelettes and mousse because they do not ‘reach a core temperature of 75C’. HoC caterers claim that this poses a health risk from salmonella.
A spokespersons for the House of Commons issued a comment stating this policy was in line with Food Standard Agency (FSA) advice, though the FSA has since refuted this saying its guidelines are to fully cook eggs before serving.
"For vulnerable groups such as the elderly, infants under five or expectant mums, there is guidance that caterers could use pasteurised egg in any food that will not be cooked or only lightly cooked, such as mayonnaise," it added.
One MP told the Mail on Sunday: "If MPs cannot or will not eat scrambled eggs or omelette because they are a health risk, members of the public may say, 'If it is too dangerous for MPs, it must be too dangerous for us'."
Roger Gent, chairman of the British Free Range Egg Producers said he had read the news with "dismay and horror", and branded the decision "sheer and utter incompetence". He added that these reports posed the same danger to the egg industry that Edwina Curry's remarks about salmonella had 25 years ago.
"[The] Industry has bent over backwards and has worked religiously and tirelessly to eliminate salmonella problems - it beggars belief," he said.
"Millions and millions have been spent to create a world-leading industry, and people come from all over the world to see how we've done it. I hope the minister will give us full backing and look this up."
British Egg Industry Council chairman Andrew Joret said British eggs had never been safer, and that the ban was both "bizarre" and "ridiculous". He expressed hope that, given the FSA had rubbished the reason for the ban and that salmonella was all-but eliminated from British flocks, it would be reversed.