Wednesday, 5 January 2011
It's some years ago, 1988 to be exact, since Edwina Currie provoked outrage by saying most of Britain's egg production was infected with the salmonella bacteria. She angered farmers, politicians and egg producers and eventually resigned over the issue.
Throughout the western world eggs are regularly recalled because they have been shown to contain the salmonella bacteria.
Now German consumers have been warned to avoid eggs since a highly toxic substance was found in the feed of poultry and pigs last week. The toxin is dioxin and if you thought salmonella was nasty, dioxin is nastier.
The origin of the feed contamination has been traced to a distributor of oils for animal feed production in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, where oils meant for industrial use in biofuels were distributed for animal feed.
Newspaper websites quoted consumer protections groups saying that people should avoid eating fresh eggs until further information was available, while it was unclear how other products such as poultry and pork meat could be affected. Some media said organic products were not affected.
Thousands of chicken have had to be culled while 1,000 farms were ordered to stop selling their products.
In my grandparents' days there was little or no testing on eggs or any other staple food. It's only with continuing improvements in science that we have the choice nowadays whether to eat a certain food which has been found to contain elements not suitable for human consumption. I'm not suggesting in Scotland we should stop eating eggs at present, but this may just make us pause at the egg counter and check the labelling before we buy.