Pregnant women, infants and the elderly are safe to eat runny eggs - if they are stamped with the British Lion mark, the food safety watchdog has announced.

For almost 30 years those vulnerable to infection have been advised against soft-boiled eggs for fear they could contain salmonella bacteria.

The salmonella crisis of 1988 - that saw two million chickens slaughtered amid a public outcry - led to the restrictive advice over raw or lightly cooked eggs.

But the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said changes by egg producers have brought about a "major reduction" in the risk of salmonella in British Lion eggs.


The UK eggs that carry the British Lion safety mark.

Those measures include hen vaccination, improved hygiene on farms and better transportation.

The FSA said it had changed its recommendations after it "thoroughly reviewed" scientific evidence.

However, it said severely immunocompromised individuals who need medically supervised diets should still cook eggs thoroughly.

And it added UK eggs that do not carry the Lion mark, non-hen eggs or eggs from outside the UK should must be hard-boiled for all vulnerable people.

What was the salmonella crisis?

In 1988 then junior health minister Edwina Currie sparked a public outcry by claiming most eggs produced in Britain were infected with salmonella.

She was forced to resign and by early 1989 the link between eggs and salmonella poisoning was proved beyond doubt.

The fears led to two million chickens being killed and pregnant women being told to avoid undercooked eggs.