The European Commission (EC) has invested €4.66m (£3.1m) into two research projects to evaluate the impact of enriched cages on Salmonella rates in eggs.

The two projects – The Safehouse and Rescape – will run for three years from 1 October 2006 – 2009. 

Both research projects are being carried out in 22 public and private sector laboratories across 11 countries.

The EC decided it was important to fund the projects as the upcoming 2012 cage ban will phase out all battery cages and introduce enriched cage systems.

The Safehouse project is looking into the impact of enriched cages on the hygienic quality of eggs and the Rescape project aims to develop new approaches to improve microbiological safety. 

The two projects will look at Salmonella and other infectious agents.  Its aim is to assess and address the food safety risks of eggs from the new enriched cages.  The EC hopes to bolster consumer confidence in eggs from enriched cages by enhancing the health safety of eggs in the new system.

“The complementary nature of these two European projects should encourage the emergence of economically viable methods, which, for the poultry farmers and the poultry industry as a whole, will facilitate the transition towards alternative systems or “enriched” cages,” a spokesperson said.