Salmonella risk ‘effectively eliminated’ from British eggs

Government advisers have said long-standing recommendations that vulnerable groups should avoid undercooked eggs should be revoked, as the presence of salmonella has been “effectively eliminated”.

Since 1988, the official advice has been that the young, pregnant women or the elderly should eat only well-cooked eggs because of the risk of salmonella infection.

But a new report, published by the government’s Advisory Committee on Microbiological Food Safety, has suggested this advice is now out of date.

It says the British egg industry has made “significant efforts” to reduce salmonella in its laying flocks, which has led to a “remarkable” impact on reducing infections in humans.

The report notes that the British Lion code – under which about 90% of the UK’s eggs are produced – led in the salmonella reduction programme, but the findings applied to any “demonstrably equivalent” scheme.

See also: Young consumers put eggs firmly back on the menu

Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC), which runs the British Lion scheme, said: “We have been confident for some time that the safety record of British Lion eggs means that vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, babies and elderly people should be able to consume them when runny.

“We know that many people in these groups, such as older people in care homes, would love to enjoy a traditional soft-boiled egg again. The report is particularly relevant for mothers – we know that the current advice has meant that many women avoid eggs during pregnancy and weaning, yet health experts say that eggs are an important food for both mothers and babies.”

There will now be a 12-week public consultation on the new report and the BEIC is urging the Food Standards Agency to amend its guidelines.

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