Isotope fingerprinting of the U.K.’s egg production has been completed by Longhand Isotopes. The company has been working with the British Free Range Egg Producers’ Association (BFREPA), among others, to establish a database that will allow Longhand to carry out routine testing to identify whether eggs being sold as British were actually produced in the U.K.

Samples were taken from 2,500 farms, including 350 organic farms, and there is now a working reference library for the U.K., Republic of Ireland and continental Europe.

The accreditation scheme Laid in Britain started working with Longhand Isotopes more than a year ago, and in November last year BFREPA gave the go ahead for its members to provide egg samples to enable Longhand to build a comprehensive picture of the United Kingdom.

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Not only will isotope testing show whether an egg was produced in the U.K., Germany, France or another country, but it will also identify the region of a country in which an egg was produced.

Robert Gooch, BFREPA's director of policy, said that what Longhand was doing was important work that could only benefit free-range egg producers in this country.

"By providing the samples, we will make the database more accurate and that will give British producers some reassurance that if a retailer claims the eggs are from Yorkshire or another part of this country, they were not produced in Italy or Germany," he said, explaining why BFREPA had decided to throw its weight behind the creation of a nationwide database.

The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has said that samples of eggs will be taken from all new laying farms joining the quality mark scheme British Lion Eggs and tested to improve the traceability of Lion eggs still further. Samples from all existing laying farms in the scheme will be taken when they are audited, and a random selection will be tested each month. BEIC has said this would allow the database to be regularly renewed.