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Celebrity chef Prue Leith in row over 'illegal egg' omelette

The columnist and Great British Menu judge said she mixed her eggs with fresh herbs and served the impromptu lunch, along with salad and ciabatta, to three friends.

Her admission to using the eggs was greeted with dismay by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which said her actions could be illegal.

Taking wild bird eggs can attract up to six months in jail and a �5,000 fine.

But Miss Leith was unrepentant, insisting she needed to "keep the numbers down".

She said: "Four of us had the most delicious omelette from Canada Geese who nest near my pond (and no, I didn't take all the eggs) with the combined leftover salads from yesterday's lunch - a lentil and tomato one and a coleslaw.

"I mixed them together with a handful of fresh parsley and chives from my herb pots outside the kitchen door. And we had stale ciabatta, refreshed (in other words dampened and rebaked) and served hot, with olive oil to dip in."

She said her actions demonstrated her skill as a cook - to be able to use whichever ingredients were close at hand.

A protein-packed Canada goose egg is the equivalent of three or four hen's eggs.

"If I hadn't learned to cook I wouldn't have had the confidence to make that lunch," she said.

"I wouldn't have been looking eagerly for Mrs Goosey Gander to lay her eggs. I wouldn't have guessed that cabbage and lentils would be a great combination."

A spokesman from the RSPB said: "It is illegal to take wild birds' eggs just for the purpose of making an omelette.

"If the person can prove that the birds were causing a public health and safety risk, an air safety risk or damage to crops or water then it would be legal to take their eggs or kill them.

"In the example of Prue Leith it is impossible to say whether this is the case and as the nest was on her land it would be easy to argue that the birds were some sort of pest."

Canada geese were first introduced to the UK from America in the 17th Century and there are now 82,000 adult birds. They are often seen as a nuisance, flooding parks and forcing out native species. They lay five or six eggs in March and April and the incubation period is normally around a month.

Miss Leith defended her actions, saying: "As far as I know it is not illegal and I need to keep the numbers down."


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