The Food Standards Agency has announced that runny eggs are now safe for consumption by everyone, even pregnant women and the elderly.
Even raw eggs are now safe according to the latest tests, less than 30 years after the salmonella crisis.
British eggs checked
The FSA has officially changed its advice on eggs, which previously said that raw or uncooked eggs should never be consumed by pregnant women, babies, or elderly people. Due to the fact that British eggs have been subject to a “thorough and robust” review of the new scientific evidence available, they found that the eggs are now safe to eat. This is great news for people in chef jobs who can rest easy about their cooking standards.
So long as eggs are protected under the British Lion code of practice, which can be verified by a red lion stamped on the outside of the egg, they can be eaten without health risks. Over 90% of British eggs are produced under the lion scheme, which means that the new ruling applies to almost all UK eggs.
A report from July 2016, published by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF), said that the presence of salmonella in British-produced eggs has been “dramatically reduced” and that risks are now “very low”.
“The FSA has thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, and we’re confident that we can now change our advice to consumers,” said FSA chair Heather Hancock. “The measures [that producers have] taken, from vaccination of hens through to improving hygiene on farms and better transportation, have dramatically reduced salmonella levels in UK hens.”
Changes to menus
Going forward, this could mean a lot of changes for menus in the UK in places like hospitals, care homes, and so on.
“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,” said Andrew Joret, chair of the British Egg Industry Council. “The advice is particularly good news for these groups and will also enable care homes to put many traditional egg dishes back on their menus.”
The advice does not apply to eggs that do not carry the red lion mark – including 10% of British eggs, eggs imported from outside the UK, and eggs that are not from chickens.
Recovering from scandal
This may have a double impact on the supply chain after there was a scandal in August concerning Dutch egg farms. It was fond that a contaminated batch of 700,000 eggs were sent to the UK, all of which were then pulled from UK supermarket shelves in an effort to contain the issue.
This is a big turnaround for the industry after the salmonella crisis of the late 1980s. Thanks to comments from Edwina Currie, who implied that almost all eggs in the UK contained salmonella, egg sales fell by 60% and 4 million hens had to be slaughtered. This was despite the British Egg Industry Council clarifying that her words were “factually incorrect and highly irresponsible”.
10 years after that event, the red lion scheme was begun in order to help allay consumer fears and regulate the industry to the highest possible standards. Now, it looks as though it has worked, as 29 years later we are looking at an industry which is all but free of salmonella. This is great news for the egg industry in general, as well as for consumers.