News in Brief

FSA changes egg advice for vulnerable groups

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

British Egg Industry Council welcomes FSA advice change
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has changed its advice on eating eggs based on findings from an expert group.

It concerns infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people eating raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or food containing them produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

These people are vulnerable to infection or are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning.

Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, which runs the British Lion scheme, said the advice is a success story for the industry. 

“Our producers have maintained the highest standards for two decades to ensure the superior safety of British Lion eggs and we are delighted that FSA has now confirmed that these eggs are safe enough for even vulnerable groups to eat runny or even raw. 

“We know that the previous advice has deterred many women from eating eggs when pregnant, and from giving them to their babies, as well as denying older people the pleasure and nutritional benefits of a ‘dippy egg’ and home-made mousses and mayonnaise.”

The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) report found the presence of Salmonella in UK eggs has reduced in recent years and risks are very low for eggs 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.

Interventions include vaccinating hens, enhanced Salmonella testing, farm hygiene, rodent control, independent auditing and traceability and keeping eggs cool in transport from farm to shop.

FSA previously said vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs because they may contain Salmonella following comments by health minister Edwina Currie in 1988.

Existing advice on UK non-Lion eggs, non-hen eggs and those from outside the UK is they should be cooked thoroughly for vulnerable groups.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA, 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 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…have dramatically reduced Salmonella levels in UK hens.”

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