October 31, 2017
UK egg producers commended for substantially reducing salmonella
The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has bestowed accolade on the country's egg producers who have made them safe enough to be eaten raw or lightly cooked even by infants.
The FSA, an independent government department, announced in early October a change in its advice about eating eggs -infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people, who are vulnerable to infection or who are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning, can now eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.
Previously they were advised against consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs because they might contain salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious illness.
"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", said Heather Hancock, chairman of the FSA.
The change in advice was based on the findings from an expert group that was set up by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in February 2015 to look at egg safety.
Its report, published in July 2016, highlighted the dramatic reduction of salmonella in UK eggs in recent years, and the very low risks for eggs produced according to food safety controls applied by the British Lion Code of Practice. More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme.
Hancock said the FSA had thoroughly reviewed the scientific evidence about the safety of these eggs, adding that "we're confident that we can now change our advice to consumers".
A range of interventions across the food chain have been put in place as part of the Lion scheme, including vaccination of hens, enhanced testing for salmonella, improved farm hygiene, effective rodent control, independent auditing and traceability, and keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop.