The UK's Food Standards Agency has reported 'growing evidence' that the recent outbreak of salmonella, which has so far caused two deaths and made 350 people ill, originated in Spain.
Continuing investigations into a number of outbreaks of salmonella in England and Wales have led the Food Standards Agency to issue guidance to importers and wholesalers of Spanish eggs, advising that they are heat treated. Heat-treatment kills bugs such as salmonella in eggs.
The Agency has also raised the issue with the European Commission and directly with the Spanish food safety authorities. However, the agency did make it clear that not all cases are linked with imported eggs.
"There is also some emerging evidence that suggests that not all food businesses are following the Agency's advice on the proper handling and use of eggs. Examples of poor practices identified so far include raw eggs being used in uncooked products such as icing and desserts; and poor practice around basic food hygiene," the FSA said.
Dr Roger Skinner, head of the Agency's Microbiological Safety Division, said: "More evidence is emerging about the sources of these outbreaks that has convinced us of the need to advise that Spanish eggs coming into the UK are heat-treated to kill off the salmonella bug.
"However we are not complacent about UK or other imported eggs. At least one outbreak is being linked with UK eggs.
"It has long been known that some eggs may be contaminated with the salmonella food poisoning bug and they must be handled and used properly.
"It is disturbing that in several of these cases it is emerging that the Agency's advice is not being listened to.
"Good practice in the kitchen, at home or in a food business, is vital. People need to protect themselves and others by sticking to our advice."
In a number of cases around the country, food poisoning has come from a particular strain of Salmonella, Enteritidis PT 14b. Some Spanish eggs have tested positive for this strain, as well as other strains of salmonella, the FSA said.
These other strains of salmonella have in turn been the cause of other outbreaks of food poisoning. Most of the outbreaks are suspected of being egg-related. As well as Spanish eggs, other imported and UK eggs are also under investigation.