Andy considers the recent furore aboiut contaminated eggs
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 Tonnes of contaminated eggs and egg products have been sold across Europe, resulting in products being withdrawn from supermarket shelves.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