The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned caterers that they need to cook and prepare eggs safely, as it investigates a threefold increase in the number of salmonella cases this year.
The FSA said it had seen a sharp rise in the strain Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 14b since mid-August and had identified fourteen clusters of the disease in England and Wales linked to a number of different catering establishments and one care home.
There have been a total of 144 cases associated with those 14 clusters, while the total number of cases for 2009 stands at 443 - up from just 137 in 2008.
It is thought that the most recent outbreaks could be linked to eggs from Spain, although the FSA said there was currently no conclusive evidence for this.
"Investigations are ongoing into a possible link to eggs sourced from an approved establishment in Spain, and the UK and Spanish authorities are working in close cooperation to investigate this," a statement said.
Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning in the UK and is sometimes found in unpasteurised milk, raw meat and poultry, as well as eggs and products containing raw egg.
By Neil Gerrard
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