The British egg industry has some of the lowest levels of salmonella contamination in Europe, according to a report by the EU.

The interim report released by the European Food Safety Authority shows measures used to reduce salmonella contamination on layer flock holdings in the UK appear to be working.

Vets who tested dust and other material found in poultry houses, as well as bird faeces, in 454 farms in the UK found only 12% showed evidence of contamination.

The comparatively low figure is encouraging as it ranks the UK infection rate among the lowest third in Europe. Countries with much higher levels of contamination include Poland, Czech Republic and Spain.

All EU member states were required to carry out surveys – the first to be carried out across Europe.

It aims to determine the prevalence of salmonella in the environment on commercial layer flock holdings and will form a baseline against which future surveys will be compared.

The aim is to help competent authorities across the EU fix a target to reduce the prevalence of salmonella, thereby helping food safety and reduce the risk of human infection.

The British Egg Industry Council said farmers had invested more than £36m in the British Lion Quality Scheme which stipulates vaccination of hens against salmonella.

Vaccination protects both hens and eggs against salmonella and also helps to reduce the prevalence of salmonella on holdings.

“The stringent biosecurity measures required by the Lion Code of Practice continue to ensure the highest safety standards for British Lion eggs and we are continuing to improve these still further,” said deputy chairman Andrew Joret.

“We believe that imports of eggs into the UK should be banned unless they have been produced to the standards required by the British Lion Scheme.”