The Food Standards Agency has updated its advice nearly 30 years after a salmonella scare
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By Katie Jones
Pregnant women, young children and the elderly can now enjoy the traditional breakfast of dippy eggs and soldiers following new advice from the Food Standards Agency.
In 1988, a scare over the presence of salmonella in eggs led to warnings for vulnerable groups to avoid eating them if they were uncooked or runny. Almost 30 years later, the FSA has confirmed that eggs marked with the British Lion are safe to be eaten lightly cooked – or even raw – after analysis by the The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food.
The advisory committee’s report, published in July 2016, said the presence of salmonella in UK eggs had been ‘dramatically reduced’ in recent years. The risks are said to be ‘very low’ for eggs which have been approved by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.
Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: ‘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, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced salmonella levels in UK hens.’
The British Free Range Egg Producers Association has welcomed the updated advice, saying it will make it easier for consumers who might have avoided eating eggs in the past.
‘This is a huge development because there will be millions of consumers who may have been avoiding eating eggs because of many years of conflicting advice,’ chief executive Robert Gooch said in a statement.
‘But after today’s announcement no-one can be left in any doubt as to the safety of British Lion Code eggs. The Code of Practice that the scheme operates has been developed over 20 years and is something that we should all be very proud of.’
The FSA said a number of procedures have been put in place as part of the Lion scheme including vaccinating hens, enhanced testing for salmonella and improved farm hygiene. However, it added that the revised advice does not apply to severely immunocompromised individuals, who require medically supervised diets.
The watchdog is also urging adults to follow best practices when cooking eggs. The recommendations include storing eggs safely in a cool dry place such as the fridge, washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs and observing ‘best before’ dates.
To celebrate the news, we recommend trying this soft-boiled eggs with rosemary and garlic fingers recipe.