This survey was prompted by a change in the epidemiology of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in England and Wales and elsewhere in Europe and, to our knowledge, is the first survey to provide information on Salmonella contamination of non-United Kingdom eggs on retail sale. Based on 10,464 non-United Kingdom eggs (1,744 pooled samples of six eggs) purchased between March 2005 and July 2006, the total weighted prevalence estimate for all Salmonella detected in non-United Kingdom eggs was 3.3%. Of the eggs sampled, most were produced in Spain (66.3%), France (20.0%), or The Netherlands (7.4%). Salmonella was detected from 4.4 and 0.3% of eggs produced in Spain and France, respectively, with weighted prevalence estimates. Eight different Salmonella serotypes were recovered from non-United Kingdom eggs, of which Salmonella Enteritidis predominated, with an estimated prevalence of 2.6%. Salmonella Enteritidis was obtained only from Spanish eggs. Nine different phage types of Salmonella Enteritidis were identified, with phage type 1 found to be the predominant phage type. Most of the Salmonella Enteritidis isolates obtained from Spanish eggs in the survey were resistant to nalidixic acid with concomitant decreased susceptibility to ciprofloxacin (0.125 to 1.0 mg/liter) or ampicillin (8.0 mg/liter). Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 1 until now had not been detected in eggs examined as part of previous United Kingdom egg surveys but has been detected in eggs of Spanish origin examined during recent national outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis non-phage type 4 infections in England and Wales. Eggs are a commonly consumed food that may occasionally be contaminated with Salmonella. The rates of contamination may be linked to the origin of the eggs. Consumers and caterers need to be aware of this continuing hazard, adopt appropriate control measures, and follow advice provided by national food agencies in order to reduce the risk of infection.
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