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Runny eggs get green light from FSA for vulnerable groups

Poultry industry groups have warmly welcomed the announcement by the Food Standards Agency that infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The egg sector has long argued that the guidance should be changed to reflect the enormous steps the British Lion Code producers, packers and processors have taken to provide a perfectly safe product.

UK egg consumption rising, but below other nations

Amanda Cryer, British Egg Information Service director, said the move could pave the way for a considerable expansion in sales of Lion Eggs, particularly to the care home sector. UK consumers currently eat 193 eggs per year – a figure that has been rising steadily but is still below many other nations.

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Foods (ACMSF). Photo: Food and Drink/Rex/Shutterstock
The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Foods (ACMSF). Photo: Food and Drink/Rex/Shutterstock

Decision opens the door to millions of new egg consumers

Robert Gooch, British Free Range Egg Producers Association (Bfrepa) chief executive, said: “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.

“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.

“We are pleased that the standards of production and food safety have been recognised and that all consumers can now feel 100% confident in eating our highly nutritious product.”

Report from Microbiological Safety of Foods

The decision to change the advice is a result of the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Foods (ACMSF) in February 2015 to look at egg safety. Its report – published in July 2016 – highlighted the presence of salmonella in UK eggs had dramatically reduced in recent years and the health risks were very low for eggs produced under the Lion Code.

Reduction in salmonella risk in Lion eggs

Heather Hancock, FSA chair, 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 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.”

The original advice was introduced after the Edwina Currie salmonella scare in 1988. The revised advice does not apply to severely immunocompromised individuals, who require medically supervised diets prescribed by health professionals and is only for eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

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