Poul­try Pen

Andy con­sid­ers the re­cent furore aboiut con­tam­i­nated eggs

Country Smallholding - - Inside This Month -

Andy Cawthray looks at eggs and health, and an­swers your ques­tions

As I write this month’s Poul­try Pen, I’m strug­gling to ig­nore the re­cent news that has seen chick­ens once more hit­ting the head­lines. In the past few weeks we’ve seen var­i­ous ex­perts and politi­cians pop up on the telly de­bat­ing the dangers of chlo­ri­nated chicken meat and try­ing to play down the pub­lic health risk of im­ported Dutch eggs con­tam­i­nated by in­sec­ti­cide.

The speed of the news that some­thing is wrong in the food chain is only matched by the speed at which it dis­ap­pears from the me­dia fo­cus, but any­one who has been read­ing my col­umn over the last few years may re­call that, back in 2014, I was draw­ing at­ten­tion to the in­creas­ingly lax ap­proach I’ve wit­nessed in feed­ing and, more sig­nif­i­cantly, med­i­cat­ing, back­yard flocks.

Sure, I’ve been vo­cal about the com­mer­cial rear­ing meth­ods and damn­ing about some of the leg­is­la­tion; prag­ma­tism and scal­a­bil­ity of­ten get side­lined (de­spite the fact there are prob­a­bly close to a mil­lion back­yard poul­try keep­ers out there).

This scare stands out

The con­tam­i­nated eggs scare stands out, not be­cause the in­ci­dent oc­curred, but be­cause it was ex­posed. Tonnes of con­tam­i­nated eggs and egg prod­ucts have been sold across Europe, re­sult­ing in prod­ucts be­ing with­drawn from su­per­mar­ket shelves.

The facts are that eggs came into con­tact with an in­sec­ti­cide known as Fipronil, a prod­uct that is used to kill lice, mites and ticks on an­i­mals. It is one that should be kept well away from the hu­man food chain

as it can dam­age the kid­neys, liver and thy­roid glands if con­sumed in sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties.

What has this got to do with us back­yard keep­ers? When it comes to live­stock, what­ever you put into it, in­vari­ably comes out again. Your birds pro­duce eggs which en­ter the food chain. Peo­ple who ad­min­is­ter med­i­ca­tions and chem­i­cals with­out the cor­rect guid­ance need to be aware that there are po­ten­tial drug residues that could sit within the eggs and meat of the bird for an in­de­ter­mi­nate time.

So, if you have know­ingly dropped a spot of the stuff you use on the cat on to your chick­ens to con­trol those bit­ing in­sects and lice, then you have po­ten­tially dosed your meat and eggs with just the type of prod­uct that has con­tam­i­nated mil­lions of eggs across Europe.

Above: check­ing eggs in the lab

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