Pregnant women are always being told what to eat and what not to eat, and now they’re being told it’s perfectly alright to eat raw eggs, when previously it was a big no-no.

Now certain eggs – namely UK hens’ eggs produced under Lion code or equivalent standards – are salmonella free according to the Food Standards Agency and are back on the menu for pregnant women.

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So why the worry originally? And who else can eat raw eggs?

Raw egg concerns

Who doesn’t like to lick the batter off the spoon when they’re baking a cake? The problem is raw eggs are regularly linked with food poisoning – specifically due to them carrying salmonella bacteria.

Contracting salmonella can leave you with severe vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and a fever, and in serious cases it can lead to dehydration and a person can become very unwell. 

Who is most at risk?

The NHS categorises babies and young toddlers, the elderly and people who are already poorly, as most at risk. And of course, until recently, pregnant women were considered at risk as well.

That leaves those who are fit, healthy, not too young and not too old, free to eat runny and raw eggs.

How to beat salmonella

The best way to avoid getting salmonella is to store eggs correctly (in a cool, dry place or in the fridge), eat them before their best before date and cook them thoroughly so the white and yolk are solid.

You can tell if an egg has gone off by placing it in a bowl of water; if it floats, it’s gone off. Alternatively, eggs that have been pasteurized (a process that kills off bacteria) should be safe too – they often come in frozen, dried or powdered form.

Are all eggs safe?

The new rules on eggs only apply to those marked with the red British Lion stamp. Thankfully, these eggs make up 90% of eggs on sale in the UK.

If you are worried though, always check the label.

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