SOME 60'000 egg laying hens from two farms in Majorca have been confined to their sheds after inspectors from the Balearic Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries found traces of the bacteria which causes salmonella in their droppings. One of the farms is in Felanitx and the second is in Manacor. But yesterday minister Margalida Moner tried to allay fears, and said that the discovery of the bacteria which causes salmonella should not have a negative effect on the consumption of eggs, although she advised consumers to clean the shells well before using the eggs. She appealed to consumers not to panic, pointing out that the salmonella bacteria “is not inside the egg, but on the shell,” and so the shell should be cleaned well to avoid problems. She said that the eggs from the two farms in question “were not bad” and can be used once they have been put through an industrial process which involves treatment at high temperatures and powdered. They will not be put on direct sale to the public.
She confirmed that the 60'000 hens on the two farms will be put down and the carcases taken to a specific treatment plant on the Peninsula, to be eliminated.
The problem was discovered during routine inspections as part of an official control programme set up by the central ministry of agriculture, in anticipation of a European directive which will come into force within three years. Moner said that 30 inspections had been made at 12 poultry farms, and the results, she claimed, “show that the controls are working.” She added that according to ministry figures, no further cases are expected to be uncovered, although the controls will be maintained.
Moner said that the firms involved will be entitled to ministry aid to mitigate the problems.
Inspections are also being carried out in poultry farms in Minorca, although the results are not yet available.
The 60'000 hens represent about 20 per cent of the egg-laying birds in the Balearics.
The discovery of the salmonella bacteria in the hens has also been notified to the Balearic Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, which is responsible for tracing eggs from their origin to their destination, in order to guarantee the quality of products which enter the food chain, Moner said. She added that the Ministry does not classify this case as one of food security but as one of animal health.
In recent weeks, Spanish produced eggs have been receiving a bad press in Great Britain, where it is alleged that many of the eggs exported to the United Kingdom are contaminated by salmonella bacteria. It was also alleged that many eggs labelled free range were in fact from battery hens.


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