Eggs are going to have Salmonella in ways we can’t predict, because we are mere mortals: Brits say, we know better

On the same day that Australia celebrated national egg day with vid-clips of schoolchildren pronouncing their love of eggs, the UK Food Standards Authority says it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

These are both so wrong on so many levels.

The UK’s contribution to international cuisine has been mushy peas and mad cow disease.

The UK Food Standards Authority’s contribution to food policy has been cook your food until it is piping hot, and now, it’s OK for pregnant women to eat raw eggs.

With five daughters, I’ve spent a lot of time around pregnant women, they may feel like Rocky Balboa, but biology don’t work that way.

The Food Standards Agency has announced a change to its advice about eating eggs – infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice.

The revised advice, based on the latest scientific evidence, means that people vulnerable to infection or who are likely to suffer serious symptoms from food poisoning (such as infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people) can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs or foods containing them.

We had previously advised that vulnerable groups should not consume raw or lightly cooked eggs, because eggs may contain salmonella bacteria which can cause serious illness.  

The decision to change the advice is a result of 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 that the presence of salmonella in UK eggs has been dramatically reduced in recent years, and the risks are very low for eggs which have been 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.

Heather Hancock, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “It’s good news that now even vulnerable groups can safely eat UK eggs without needing to hardboil them, so long as they bear the British Lion mark. 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.”

A range of interventions have been put in place across the food chain as part of the Lion scheme including: vaccinating 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.

Great. Show us mere mortals the numbers.

And any science-based body that recommends cooking food until it is piping hot is seriously suspect.

Egg farmer David Brass says the introduction of the British Lion standard has made all the difference.

“We know from back in the ’80s when all the scare started, there was an issue with eggs.

“But what the Lion standard does, it is a fully independent, audited code of practice to make sure we have standards on the farm that make sure we can’t have any of those disease problems again.

“And it has shown time after time, in those intervening years, that it is just a brilliant food safety code.”

Yup, audits make the difference (not).

This won’t end well.

In Australia, the morning shows were filled with fluff about the greatness of eggs, with no mention of the following outbreaks involving raw eggs or raw-egg sauces.

A table of Australian egg outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/raw-egg-related-outbreaks-australia-10-9-15.xlsx