If they are to stay ahead of their EU counterparts, British egg producers need to address the new EU zoonoses directive on salmonella sooner rather than later, warned Adam Goddard, UK-based consultant to Lohmann Animal Health.

Many producers placing flocks now don’t appreciate that they will be due for sampling before the end of lay.

This will be introduced in 2008, followed by penalties for positive readings in 2009.

“From what I’ve seen, some farmers are simply not aware of the scale of what they will have to do,” he said.

He points out that while salmonella controls are currently focussed on the birds through vaccination, in future they will involve samples being taken from the surrounding environment.

Biosecurity measures will therefore have to embrace a whole raft of disciplines.

These will include comprehensive cleaning and disinfection regimes in the houses, control of rodents and other vectors such as flies and red mite, and protocols for visitors and vehicles, such as delivery lorries.

“The new level of testing will certainly show up any positive readings and highlight any latent salmonella problems.

“For instance, samples may be taken from boots, dust, faeces, and other sites from the surrounding environment.”

British egg producers have led the world as far as salmonella control is concerned, but the industry shouldn’t become complacent.

“It needs to tackle this issue without delay. The UK target for the reduction of S enteritidis and S typhimurim in laying flocks, albeit at a lower level than some other countries, is still 10% a year,” he explained.