Can I use eggs from my own hens or local farm eggs in my cooking?
There is no specific legal restriction covering what type of eggs can be used in catering. If you are using your own eggs from your own farm, the flock (regardless of the size) must be registered under animal health regulations with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. FSAI recommends that the flock is periodically tested for Salmonella. In this way you can demonstrate to your EHO that you have considered the risk and are verifying controls by flock testing. Testing certificates should suffice as documentary evidence of these controls.
You may also use local farm eggs that are stamped and graded in compliance with the egg marketing legislation. The stamp is sufficient to demonstrate the reduced risk of Salmonella being present in the eggs as these flocks have to be tested for Salmonella under the control of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Can I buy unstamped/ungraded eggs for use in my business?
Sale of unstamped/ungraded eggs to catering or retail premises is not permitted. You should not use unstamped/ungraded eggs from any source other than your own farm. Unstamped eggs can only be used when produced by your own flock consisting of less than 50 hens; above this number of birds, the eggs must be stamped and graded before use.
Do I need to use pasteurised egg to make mayonnaise or other egg-based sauces, for example, Hollandaise or Béarnaise, and can I make homemade ice cream with eggs from my own flock?
There is no specific legal restriction covering what type of eggs can be used to make these types of foods. Caterers should be aware that sometimes hen eggs and, more commonly, duck eggs can contain Salmonella. Therefore, ready-to-eat foods made with raw egg that do not receive a cooking step to kill Salmonella are a potential risk to the consumer. For example, homemade mayonnaise, certain raw egg sauces that are minimally cooked, e.g., Hollandaise/Béarnaise and certain raw egg-based desserts like homemade ice-cream and tiramisu, represent a potential risk to the consumer if Salmonella is present in the eggs.
The FSAI recommends the following for controlling the risk of Salmonella in eggs used in ready-to-eat dishes:
- pasteurised egg is the safest form of egg to use in ready-to-eat dishes
- eggs produced under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme or an equivalent body in another EU Member State are the next safest source, as the strict Salmonella controls reduce the level of risk of Salmonella being present*
- the use of unstamped/ungraded eggs should be avoided as these are not controlled under the national Salmonella testing scheme. Controls on such eggs may not be as strict as those used in the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme. All stamped hens eggs are sourced from flocks that are subject to statutory controls for Salmonella*
- the use of duck eggs, irrespective of source, is not recommended in ready-to-eat foods that are not cooked, since these eggs are commonly contaminated with Salmonella.
* It is important to be aware that stamped eggs and eggs produced under the Bord Bia Quality Assurance scheme or other similar schemes do not eliminate the Salmonella risk but reduce the level of risk compared with using unstamped eggs.