HC Deb 07 December 1988 vol 143 cc187-8W
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:

January 27
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.