News briefs: A UK survey finds low level of salmonella contamination in eggs used in restaurants, pubs and cafeterias; processors meet with the UK regulator, citing evidence showing that they have taken great strides in producing products without artificial additives.
Survey indicates low level of salmonella in eggs
Very few eggs used in restaurants, pubs and cafeterias are contaminated with salmonella, according to a UK survey commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The survey, which was carried out by the Health Protection Agency, and ran from November 2005 to January 2007, analysed about 1,500 samples of six catering egg shells from eight different countries and used in UK catering premises.
Analysis of the egg shells and contents showed a contamination of 0.38 per cent or six samples in total. Five of the six positive samples were from eggs produced in the UK and one from Germany.
Alongside this low level of salmonella contamination, the survey highlighted evidence of poor storage and handling practices in some catering premises.
Over half of premises failed to store their eggs under refrigerated conditions and a fifth of egg samples had either expired best before dates, or were in use after three weeks of lay, indicating poor stock rotation.
In addition, over a third of premises mixed and pooled eggs for use during the day.
Salmonella infection remains an important public health issue and is one of the five key organisms against which the FSA monitors in a bid to reduce foodborne disease.
Food industry says additives being cut
At a meeting with the UK regulator yesterday food industry representatives cited evidence showing that they have taken great strides in producing products without artificial additives.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) set up the meeting with food industry bodies to establish what action companies are being taken following publication last week of a study that linked artificial colours with hyperactivity in children.
The industry bodies present stated that since 2003, there has been a widespread trend to move away from the use of artificial colours in food and drink products - especially those aimed at children.
Industry representatives quoted data from market analysts, Mintel, showing that 24 per cent of all new food and drink products launched onto the market contain no artificial additives, the FSA stated.
They also claimed that many supermarket own brand products aimed at children are free from artificial colours.
The Food Additives and Ingredients Association reported that a major supplier of colours had seen a reduction of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent in sales of artificial colours to the food and drink industry since 2003.
Gill Fine, the FSA's director of consumer choice and dietary health, said parents needed more help to follow the FSA's advice on certain artificial food colours.
'That's why we have asked the food industry to provide more information about products containing these colours as soon as possible," he stated. "They have agreed to do this and the FSA will be providing links to their information from a dedicated page on our website. This is a good first step but it's clear that more needs to be done to enable consumers to make informed choices."