Last week, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced changes to its advice about how consumers can eat eggs. Now, FSA says that it is safe for infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people to eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The revised advice is based on new scientific evidence. Previously, infants, children, pregnant women, elderly people, those vulnerable to infection and other health issues as the result of foodborne illness were not advised to consume raw or runny eggs. That now outdated advice was based on the fact that eggs contain Salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning.

There are exceptions to FSA’s new advice, though. Individuals categorized as “severely immunocompromised” and who require special diets should still follow the agency’s previous advice on egg consumption.  

Here is an excerpt from FSA’s announcement:

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food in February 2015 to look at egg safety. Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted that the presence of Salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years, and the risks are very low for eggs which have been produced according to food safety controls applied by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It's good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hardboil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark. The FSA has thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, and we're confident that we can now change our advice to consumers.

“The major reduction in the risk of Salmonella in Lion eggs is testament to the work carried out by egg producers. The measures they've taken, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced Salmonella levels in UK hens.”

A range of interventions have been put in place across the food chain as part of the Lion scheme including vaccinating hens, enhanced testing for Salmonella, improved farm hygiene, effective rodent control, independent auditing, and traceability, and keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop.

When consuming raw or runny eggs, FSA advises the public to be mindful of proper storage, hygiene, handwashing and to pay attention to expiration dates.

Related articles:
A Closer Look at Egg Safety
Egg Safety: Avoiding Shell Shock at Retail
An FDA Update on Egg Safety

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