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Raw eggs 'safe for pregnant women'

Raw eggs 'safe for pregnant women'

Pregnant women can eat raw or runny eggs, a safety committee has advised.

In a statement released on Tuesday (26Jul16), the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food said that the risk of salmonella from U.K. eggs produced to Lion Code or equivalent standards should be considered "very low". This is due to tighter hygiene standards on British hen farms meaning approved eggs are likely free from salmonella, a potentially deadly bacterium which has been previously associated with eating raw eggs since a report it produced in 2001.

This is especially the case for eggs produced under the Lion Code quality assurance scheme, it added. The low risk means eggs produced under the code can be served raw or lightly cooked to all groups in society, it stated. This includes "those that are more vulnerable to infection, in domestic and non-domestic settings, including care homes and hospitals."

The committee added the recommendation is not intended to include "severely immunocompromised individuals" - those who have an impaired immune system. However, it does include vulnerable groups in general including pregnant women, the young and the elderly. In response, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has begun a consultation on the issue on the report. "The consultation is inviting views on the recommended changes to the FSA's advice from a range of stakeholders, including food and hospitality industries, consumer and enforcement bodies, and health care practitioners," it said.

The FSA currently advises members of vulnerable groups against eating "raw eggs, eggs with runny yolks or any food that is uncooked or only lightly cooked and contains raw eggs" due to the risk of food poisoning. Meanwhile, both organisations advise consumers to be aware of safety guidelines for eggs, including proper storage and the following of best before dates.

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