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Runny eggs back on the menu for pregnant women and elderly as FSA relaxes rules after 30 years

Pregnant women and the elderly can enjoy the simple pleasure of dipping toast soldiers into a runny yolk for the first time in 30 years, after the Food Standards Agency today relaxed its rules on uncooked eggs.

Since the 1980s salmonella scandal, vulnerable groups have been advised to hard-boil their eggs for fear of food poisoning.

But today, the FSA confirming that eggs stamped with the British Lion are safe to be soft-boiled – or even eaten raw – following a year long risk assessment by the The Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food.

The turnaround follows two decades of vaccination programmes and improved hygiene in farms which has virtually wiped out salmonella in British eggs.

“This is a real success story for the UK egg industry,” said Andrew Joret, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, which runs the British Lion scheme.

“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.

“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.”

Dr Juliet Gray, registered nutritionist, added: “The new advice is very welcome news. “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.”

Prof Paul Wigley, Professor of Avian Infection and Immunity, University of Liverpool, said: “The FSA decision is a reflection on the success of UK egg producers in all but eliminating Salmonella from the UK flock.

“Since the introduction of vaccination in 1998 the levels of Salmonella have declined. Vaccination, along with high standards of hygiene and biosecurity required in the UK, has been a key to this reduction to negligible levels in Lion Mark eggs. The poultry industry is frequently criticised but we should recognise a success story for our farmers.

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