THE British Lion Code of Practice has been updated to coincide with 25 the scheme’s 25th anniversary.
It covers more than 700 auditable points across topics such as Salmonella vaccination, welfare and the traceability of hens, eggs and feed.
Version 8, launched in early June, has updated sampling and testing protocols, auditing and enforcement measures, as well as updates to rodent control, on-farm and packing centre procedures and the Lion training passport (See list of key changes below).
Mark Williams, British Egg Industry Council chief executive, said: “The introduction of the Lion Code in 1998 effectively eliminated Salmonella and restored consumer confidence in British eggs.
“I’m proud to say version 8 is the most comprehensive Code ever launched, incorporating all of the latest scientific and veterinary advice to ensure the British public gets the quality, safe eggs they expect and can enjoy eating them with confidence – however they like them cooked.
“At a time when imported eggs are being sold by retail and wholesale companies due to the current temporary supply issues, it’s important that consumers know that British eggs, produced to unparalleled food safety standards, are available.”
Key updates in version 8 of the Lion Code include:
The BEIC has strengthened requirements for all farms to have an effective programme for the control of pests including vermin, rodents and pests in poultry houses and feed stores – failure to comply is a critical non-conformance. Controls on wild birds are also in place
Reporting the use of antibiotics is a formal requirement, as is the banning of certain antibiotics. Whilst the sector is a low user of antibiotics, BEIC monitors antibiotics administered to ensure responsible use
On-farm hygiene requirements
All Lion farms must be biosecure and the BEIC has introduced rules to ensure that protective clothing must be kept on farm and provided to visitors who are entering poultry houses
All Lion farms must not only record visitors, but must keep a clear record of any that have had access to specific biosecure areas eg poultry houses or birds
In order to facilitate the clean delivery or collection from the farm, the site must have a place where vehicles can be cleansed and disinfected
All sites must demonstrate competence in the implementation of effective biosecurity measures
Foot-dip facilities must be used by all people who enter and exit general biosecure areas and they must fully ‘dip’ footwear. Foot-dips must only use authorised disinfectant and must be regularly changed – at least weekly
Minimising the risk of disease spreading
Every farm must have measures in place that minimise the spread of disease both within the farm and to other farms
Segregating general and specific biosecure areas
On Lion farms there must be a physical barrier footwear system at the entrance to both the intermediate and specific biosecure bird areas, where dedicated footwear must be used and sanitiser provided
Water on the premises
There should not be any areas of standing water on the premises. If these persist, then steps should be taken to prevent birds accessing water to stop them mixing with wild birds and waterfowl
All transit packaging must be clean and free of debris. Washing facilities must be available where plastic is used. If the site uses fibre keyes trays, only new trays may be brought into the (closed loop) system by the packing centre
Farm senior managers are now required to undertake audit training to understand their responsibilities, ensuring robust auditing standards
Staff must participate in the Lion Training Passport to further raise standards across the industry
At least 10% of laying farm audits are now unannounced. A 12-month independent audit cycle was also introduced for laying farms. Following the initial audit, and on a risk-based assessment, this could mean that they have an official audit more frequently or less frequently
Subscribers must accompany senior management of the site during both six-monthly self-audits. Previously they only had to accompany them on one
Salmonella sampling and testing
Increased frequency and efficacy of salmonella sampling/testing, increasing ‘operator’ sampling from 15 weeks to every 13 weeks
Updated and increased level of testing across the supply chain with the most comprehensive testing regime anywhere in the world
Packing Centre protocols have been enhanced and testing increased, with swabbing taking place at more points and more often
Salmonella positive flocks
A flock is required to be removed from site if a regulated salmonella serovar is confirmed. Processors are already unable to use these eggs in the UK, and since EU-exit producers have been unable to export them for processing. There were also concerns that a positive flock may continue to contaminate the environment beyond that flock
Although the Lion remains primarily a food safety scheme, animal welfare has been upweighted in the Code, and is highlighted in each section
Enforcement penalties have been increased, including immediate suspension from the Lion scheme for multiple non-critical conformances as well as critical non-conformances