§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of salmonella poisoning caused by infected eggs have been reported in each month of 1988; and what percentage of total egg sales these figures represent.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Reports of food poisoning do not normally identify the food stuff causing the illness. However, in England and Wales, there were 46 outbreaks involving 1,141 people in the first 10 months of 1988 in which the most likely source of infection was uncooked or partially cooked eggs. Recent studies indicate that some sporadic cases of salmonellosis have also been caused by eggs. We also have reason to believe that these figures underestimate the total number of people affected. The monthly breakdown of 1,141 cases is as follows:188W
Number January 27 February — March — April 60 May 302 June 159 July 207 August 145 September 114 October 127
Figures of egg sales are not available but the number of eggs produced each year in the United Kingdom is between 12,000-13,000 million. The percentage of reported cases to egg sales is clearly very small.
Although the risk of harm to any healthy individual from consuming a single raw or partially cooked egg is small, it is advisable for vulnerable people such as the elderly, the sick, babies and pregnant women to consume only eggs which have been cooked until the white and yolk are solid.