Sunny side up please! Runny eggs safe to eat again, says food safety watchdog

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Pregnant women and the elderly can get dipping again after the UK’s food safety watchdog relaxes its rules on eating runny yolks.

Runny eggs

Egg soldiers are back on the menu for pregnant women, infants and the elderly under new advice issued by the UK’s food safety watchdog.

They can enjoy their eggs sunny side up for the first time in 30 years – since the salmonella crisis – because the Food Standard Agency has revised its guidance on eating runny yolks following a new study.

A report by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) found the presence of salmonella in British eggs has “dramatically reduced” in recent years.

The risks are also “very low” for eggs carrying the British Lion mark – which account for more than 90% of eggs in the UK.

Runny eggs
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The FSA has revised its advice on eating runny yolks

Those that are not produced according to the British Lion code, non-hen eggs and imported eggs should still be cooked thoroughly.

In 1988, a scare over the presence of salmonella in eggs caused a dramatic collapse in sales.

Then junior health minister Edwina Currie said most egg production in Britain was infected with salmonella.

Her comments provoked outrage in the farming industry and she was forced to resign two weeks later.

Two million chickens were slaughtered and the Government had to offer a compensation package of millions of pounds to farmers.

The British Lion Quality Mark on an egg
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The advice only applies to eggs with the British Lion quality mark on them

By early 1989, the link between eggs and salmonella poisoning was proved beyond doubt and pregnant woman were told to avoid under-cooked eggs.

FSA chairwoman Heather Hancock said the watchdog had “thoroughly reviewed” the new scientific evidence following improvements in animal welfare and a vaccination programme and was “confident” about relaxing its rules.

“The major reduction in the risk of salmonella in Lion eggs is testament to the work carried out by egg producers,” she said.

“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 revised advice does not apply to people with impaired immune systems whose diets are supervised by health professionals.

Runny eggs

The British Lion Quality Mark on an egg

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