Runny Eggs Back On The Menu For Pregnant Women

Pregnant women and the elderly can now safely eat runny or even raw eggs under new advice issued by the government's food safety watchdog nearly 30 years after the United Kingdom salmonella crisis.

Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted that the presence of salmonella in United Kingdom 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.

Those measures include hen vaccination, improved hygiene on farms and better transportation.

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 had previously advised tvulnerable groups not to eat runny or raw eggs because they could contain unsafe salmonella bacteria which can cause serious illness.

In 1988 Edwina Currie, then a junior health minister, said most egg production in Britain was infected with salmonella.

"Existing advice on United Kingdom eggs without the Lion mark, non-hen eggs and eggs from outside the United Kingdom is that they should always be cooked thoroughly for vulnerable people".

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The fears led to two million chickens being killed and pregnant women being told to avoid undercooked eggs.

The FSA said it had changed its recommendations after it "thoroughly reviewed" scientific evidence.

These comments prompted a furious backlash from the public, farmers and politicians and two weeks later she was forced to resign.

Last year, hens in the United Kingdom laid 10,372 million eggs, while on average would consume more than 34.5 million eggs every day. NFU poultry board chairman Duncan Priestner said: "This is great news for the industry and has been many years in the making".

"It's important to note though that this revised advice does not apply to the severely immunocompromised who require medically supervised diets". These included: vaccinating hens, enhancing 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.

"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".

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