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Raw eggs ‘safe for pregnant women’

Eggs can also be served raw or lightly cooked to vulnerable groups

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The risk of salmonella from UK eggs produced to Lion code or equivalent standards should be considered "very low", the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food has announced.

It said this meant eggs could be served raw or lightly cooked to "vulnerable" groups like the elderly and the young.

And it says pregnant women should no longer be told not to eat raw or lightly cooked eggs. The committee has found there has been a "major reduction in the microbiological risk from salmonella in UK hen shell eggs" since a report it produced in 2001.

Its recommendation to classify certain eggs as "very low" risk only applies to UK hens' eggs produced under Lion code or equivalent standards.

It also warns that safety guidelines including proper storage and eating eggs within best before dates must be followed.

Professor John Coia, Chair of the ACMSF Expert Ad Hoc group on eggs said: "The committee has found that there has been a major reduction in the risk from Salmonella in UK hens’ eggs since 2001. This is especially the case for eggs produced under the Lion Code, or equivalent schemes. It also recommended that these eggs could be served raw or lightly cooked to both those in good health and those in more vulnerable groups."

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has now launched an eight-week consultation in response to the report.

At present, the FSA’s advice to consumers is that eating raw eggs, eggs with runny yolks or any food that is uncooked or only lightly cooked and contains raw eggs, may cause food poisoning and warns vulnerable groups against eating them.

The consultation is inviting views on the recommended changes to the FSA’s advice from a range of stakeholders, including food and hospitality industries, consumer and enforcement bodies, and health care practitioners.

Comments on the proposed change to consumer advice should be submitted to the FSA by Friday 16 September 2016, when the consultation closes.

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