Salmonella from British eggs has poisoned 45 people this year, it has emerged, despite a Government claim the risk is “so low you needn’t worry”.
There have been at least 100 cases of people being infected in the past three years, in a major outbreak traced back to poultry farms in the UK.
Public Health England (PHE) confirmed the figures found in documents seen by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) but said it was unaware of any related deaths.
This year, 25 egg-laying poultry flocks tested positive for the bacteria, with seven contaminated by the most serious strain, salmonella enteritidis.
Eggs from the infected flocks were kept from sale and either disposed of or sent for processing to kill the bacteria, and the birds were culled.
The outbreak came despite the Government insisting that the risk was virtually eliminated in October 2017.
Heather Hancock, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said at the time: “The risk of salmonella is now so low you needn’t worry. It’s only people on strictly medically supervised diets who need to avoid those eggs.”
In humans, salmonella poisoning can be life-threatening, particularly in infants and the elderly, and causes diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and a high temperature.
A Defra spokesman said: “The Food Standards Agency and Animal and Plant Health Agency are investigating and taking action to control this outbreak alongside industry, Public Health England and local authorities.”