It has taken almost 30 years of work to satisfy scientists, but uncooked eggs have finally been given the green light on safety.
It has now been deemed safe for young children, pregnant women and the elderly to eat soft, runny and even raw eggs – provided they are produced under the British Lion code of practice.
When junior government minister Edwina Currie made the misleading statement in 1988 that most eggs were affected by salmonella, sales plummeted by 60%. There was a major loss of revenue for poultry farmers and it is thought that four million hens were slaughtered due to lack of demand.
New advice issued by Food Standards Scotland states that people who are vulnerable to the effects of food poisoning can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that carry the British Lion stamp.
This revised advice follows a new report which recognised the reduction in the risk from salmonella in all UK hens since 2001.
NFU Scotland’s former poultry group chairman, Robert Chapman described it as “fantastic news” for the Scottish egg sector.
“It has been a long, long time coming but this is welcome recognition of the hard work and effort put in by egg producers to tackle the threat of salmonella in their flocks,” he said.
“I hope this clean bill of health for all will encourage more Scottish consumers to put even more Scottish eggs in their shopping basket each week.”
Food Standards Scotland’s Head of Food Protection, Science and Surveillance, Dr Jacqui McElhiney, said the scientific review had highlighted the “significant progress” made by egg producers in Scotland and across the UK in reducing Salmonella in hens.
“We previously advised that people who are at higher risk of becoming very ill if they contract food poisoning should only eat fully cooked or hard-boiled eggs,” she said.
“The findings provide the assurance Food Standards Scotland needs to change its advice. Whilst healthy consumers can continue to enjoy all UK eggs any way they choose, it’s good news that children, pregnant women and the elderly can now safely eat their eggs soft boiled, runny or raw, as long as they’re stamped with the British Lion Code mark.
“It’s important to note though that this revised advice does not apply to the severely immunocompromised who require medically supervised diets.”