Pregnant women can eat runny eggs, says watchdog

FSA chairman Heather Hancock said: 'It's good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat United Kingdom eggs without needing to hard-boil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark.' As well as vaccinating the hens, there has been improved farm hygiene, better control of rats and mice which can spread infection, and improved handling of the eggs.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA, said: "It is good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat United Kingdom eggs without needing to hard boil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark".

It is the result of a report published last year by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) suggesting the presence of salmonella in United Kingdom eggs had been in decline for years and that the risks for eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The major reduction in the risk of salmonella in Lion mark eggs was testament to the work carried out by egg producers, she said.

"Whilst healthy consumers can continue to enjoy all United Kingdom eggs any way they choose, it's good news that children, pregnant women and the elderly can now safely eat their
eggs soft boiled, runny or raw, as long as they're stamped with the British Lion Code mark".

FSA chairwoman Heather Hancock said the watchdog had "thoroughly reviewed" the new scientific evidence following improvements in animal welfare and a vaccination programme and was "confident" about relaxing its rules.

Those that are not produced according to the British Lion code, non-hen eggs and imported eggs should still be cooked thoroughly.

"The advice is particularly good news for these groups and will also enable care homes to put many traditional egg dishes back on their menus".

However, the revised advice does not apply to severely immunocompromised people who are on medically supervised diets, and is only for eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

Soft-boiled eggs have come with a health warning since 1988, when the-then health minister Edwina Currie warned they could be contaminated with salmonella. Her comments sparked a public outcry and two weeks later she was forced to resign from government.

Growing up we were always told to avoid eating runny eggs because of the salmonella crisis. But efforts by farmers to eradicate the bug, which include vaccinating hens against salmonella, have effectively eliminated the risk.

Egg consumers should still be mindful of best before dates and storing eggs in cool, dry places.

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