Low-cost vaccines that may have helped prevent the kind of salmonella outbreak that has led to the recall of more than a half-billion eggs haven’t been given to half of the nation’s egg-laying hens. The vaccines are not required in the U.S., although in Great Britain, officials said vaccinations have given them the safest egg supply in Europe. A survey conducted by the European food safety agency in 2009 found that about 1 percent of British flocks had salmonella compared to about 60 to 70 percent of flocks elsewhere in Europe, a spokeswoman for the British Egg Information Service said. There has been no push to require vaccination in the U.S., in part because it would cost farmers and in part because advocates have been more focused on more comprehensive food-safety reforms, those watching the poultry industry said. A poultry veterinarian at Iowa State University predicted vaccination will become more common after the recent outbreak. The salmonella vaccine prevents chickens from becoming infected and then passing the bacteria on to their eggs. It has been available in the U.S. since 1992.

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