‘Dippy’ eggs are back on the menu

There’s good news for pregnant women who enjoy dipping ‘soldiers’ in runny eggs. Almost 30 years since the salmonella crisis, the government’s Food Standards Agency has changed its advice about eating eggs.

This means pregnant women, infants, children and older people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

In other words, eggs that carry the British Lion mark can be enjoyed by more people for the first time since the 1980s, thanks to the latest scientific evidence. Previously, vulnerable groups were advised not to eat raw or lightly cooked eggs because they may contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious illness.

However a report compiled by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food found that the presence of salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years. Now, it says, the risks are very low for British Lion eggs – which account for more than 90 percent of UK eggs.

“It’s good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hard boil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark,” says FSA chairwoman Heather Hancock.

“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 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.”

However, the revised advice doesn’t apply to those with a severe immune system disorder, who continue to require medically supervised diets prescribed by health professionals. It also doesn’t apply to UK non-Lion eggs, non-hen eggs and eggs produced outside the UK – these eggs should still be cooked thoroughly for vulnerable groups, says the FSA.

Nutritious and delicious

The new advice is very welcome news, says registered nutritionist Dr Juliet Gray. “Eggs are highly nutritious, containing many key nutrients including high-quality protein, vitamin D, selenium, iodine, choline and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are particularly important for many vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, babies and elderly people, and several of them are not found in many other foods.”

The FSA has also given safety advice for those eating raw or lightly cooked eggs:

  • Store eggs safely in a cool dry place, such as the fridge.
  • Follow good hygiene practices in the kitchen; avoiding cross contamination, cleaning work surfaces, dishes and utensils and making sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs.
  • Observe best before dates.

However, there are still several types of foods you should avoid if you’re pregnant, including certain types of cheese, raw or undercooked meat, liver, paté, raw shellfish and some cold cured meats such as salami and chorizo. For more information about what you should avoid – and how you can make sure your diet is healthy while you’re pregnant – have a chat with your Careway pharmacist (find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder).