Just heard from Natural Choices UK: organic eggs carry less risk of salmonella than eggs laid by "conventionally raised" hens (read: stuffed beak to beak in cages). Specifically, "the study showed that 23.4 per cent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella compared to 4.4 per cent in organic flocks and 6.5 per cent in free-range flocks." "The research also showed that the highest prevalence of salmonella occurred in the largest holding size category (30,000 birds or more). This was over four times the average level of salmonella found in flocks closer to the maximum size allowed under Soil Association organic standards." A spokesperson adds, ""This research confirms the Soil Association’s view that there are serious potential human health implications from such intensive systems. Whilst Salmonella food poisoning can be avoided through proper cooking of eggs and meat, anything that reduces the incidence of this bug should be encouraged – like genuine free-range, organic farming.”
Looks like the USDA could take notes from the Soil Association's strict standards for organically raised eggs. Here in the U.S., the only cage-free stipulation is that organic hens "must have access to the outdoors" -- which can mean a postage-stamp-sized piece of concrete.