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Hardly a day goes by without more bad news from the Euro zone, and the impact that European woes are having on the bloc’s trading partners. Lack of agreement, lack of compliance, and debts and problems coming to the fore that were there all along, but somehow overlooked, all seem to spell impending doom.
The lack of economic growth, ongoing austerity and the failure to find any kind of solution continue to make the outlook bleak, simply leaving the question of "What will happen next?"
While unlikely to change European fortunes, a little good news emerged this week for those working in the egg industry. Intra-European trade in eggs has not ground to a halt or been hijacked by non-compliant egg producers. The predictions of collapse heard at the beginning of the year were, perhaps, a little exaggerated. This good news came in the form of a response to an inquiry made by the UK’s National Farmers’ Union over concerns that illegal eggs may be entering the country.
While nobody can doubt that the conventional cage ban has been problematic for the European egg industry, the inquiry made by the National Farmers’ Union found that trade between EU Member States had not ground to a halt, and neither has it been tainted by illegal eggs, or so evidence from the UK would suggest.
The inquiry came about over fears that there had been an influx of possibly illegally produced eggs into the country from Eastern Europe, which prompted the National Farmers’ Union to ask the country’s Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency what checks were being carried out on imported shell eggs. The two bodies confirmed that checks were continuing on a weekly basis in England and Wales. Batches are checked at importers by using ultraviolet light analysis and by checking against Member States’ compliant producer lists.
Since the beginning of April, inspectors have been seeing enriched cage Class A eggs from Spain, Germany, Poland, France and the Netherlands.
If any suspected non-compliant shell eggs are identified, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency contacts the competent authority in the originating Member State and asks for confirmation of the system of production. If the eggs are found to be from conventional cages, they will be prevented from being marketed as Class A eggs and disposed of accordingly, preferably as an animal by-product, or sent for processing if any UK processors would accept them. As most UK supermarkets have said that they will not products using non-compliant processed eggs, the latter possibility is unlikely.
While the response does not explicitly state that any non-compliant Class A eggs were rejected, it would seem that intra-European trade in eggs is continuing, despite a bumpy start to the year. And of the countries that are importing eggs to the UK, among them is Spain, often portrayed as one of the worst offenders where lack of compliance is concerned.
In the Euro crisis, Spain seems to have taken over from Greece as the center of attention, but its egg industry, it would appear, is not quite so lacking in compliance as once thought, and that is good news for all.