Tommy's PregnancyHub

Is it safe to eat raw or runny eggs in pregnancy?

A food safety committee has stated that UK eggs with the Red Lion mark are safe to eat raw or lightly-cooked in pregnancy.

Eggs can be a useful addition to a healthy balanced diet, but lots of pregnant women question whether it is safe to eat them raw or lightly-cooked.

In the 1980s, the Department of Health recommended that pregnant women should avoid uncooked dishes involving raw eggs and should not eat eggs that are lightly cooked. This was due to concerns around bacteria called salmonella that was often found in uncooked eggs. Pregnant women are more at risk of infection from food poisoning, which can be caused by salmonella.

The Food Standards Agency reviewed its advice in 2017, confirming it is safe to eat raw or runny eggs if they are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (have a lion stamp on them). More than 90% of UK eggs are produced under this scheme. You can also eat foods that have raw British Lion eggs in them, like mousse and mayonnaise.

Can I eat eggs that are not Red Lion? 

You can still eat eggs that are not British Lion, or not from hens, but make sure the whites and yolks are cooked thoroughly. Otherwise there is a risk of salmonella which can cause food poisoning

Tip

You should always check the eggs first for the Red Lion stamp before eating them raw or lightly-cooked. Remember to store them properly and to consume them within the best before date. 

Why is it safe to eat Red Lion eggs raw or runny? 

A report from the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in 2016, highlighted that salmonella in UK eggs had reduced significantly. They decided that the risks are very low for eggs which have been produced according to the British Lion Code of Practice.  

Strict rules have been put in place across as part of the Red Lion scheme including: 

  • vaccinating hens
  • enhanced testing for salmonella
  • improved farm hygiene
  • keeping the eggs cool while transporting them from farm to shop. 

Egg Info (2017) New Government advice: British Lion eggs safe for mums-to-be, babies and elderly people: https://www.egginfo.co.uk/news/new-government-advice-british-lion-eggs-safe-mums-be-babies-and-elderly-people 

Food Standards Agency (FSA) (2017) New advice on eating runny eggs: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20171207160203/https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/16597/new-advice-on-eating-runny-eggs

NHS Choices (Accessed 12/11/20) Foods to avoid in pregnancy: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/foods-to-avoid-pregnant/#:~:text=yolks%20are%20solid-,Why,and%20yolks%20are%20cooked%20thoroughly
 

Review dates

Last reviewed: 4 March 2021
Next review: 4 March 2024