Runny eggs 'safe' for pregnant women to eat, says report

Almost 30 years after eggs were linked to salmonella, those with the British Lion stamp can now be 'served raw or lightly cooked to all groups in society', a report finds

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The Independent Online

Runny eggs should be deemed safe for pregnant women to eat, according to a new report.

People vulnerable to infection have been warned to avoid raw and lightly cooked eggs since they were linked to salmonella poisoning in 1989,

But eggs that carry the red British Lion stamp on their shell now carry only a “very low” risk of salmonella poisoning, the report by the government’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) says.

Eggs produced under the British Lion code, which make up almost 90 per cent of UK egg production, “can be served raw or lightly cooked to all groups in society, including those that are more vulnerable to infection”, the report says.

The FSA is conducting a 12-week consultation on whether to update their advice following the ACMSF report, but has already acknowledged the “major reduction in the risk from salmonella in UK eggs since 2001”.

Pregnant women and other vulnerable groups should still avoid eating imported eggs and those not produced under the British Lion code, as well as those from birds other than hens.

Improved hygiene and storage is thought to have reduced the salmonella risk.

Advice against raw and lightly cooked eggs has been issued since the link with salmonella poisoning was proven in 1989.

Edwina Currie, then junior health minister, sparked the so-called salmonella crisis in 1988, when she said that most British eggs were infected with salmonella. Her remarks sparked a furore that led to her resignation shortly afterwards.