UK health experts are telling women not to avoid eggs when pregnant, nor to delay giving them to their babies.
The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) says that emerging research suggests that eating eggs in pregnancy and weaning is more likely to reduce the risk of the baby developing an egg allergy.
UK government food safety experts have also announced a review of evidence relating to the safety of eggs in the UK and the BEIC says that the safety record of eggs produced in accordance with the quality scheme British Lion means that vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and babies should now be allowed to consume them when runny.
A review paper published in the Journal of Health Visiting concludes that historic concerns about allergy and food safety may have resulted in unnecessary avoidance of eggs by these groups. A new analysis of nationally representative infant feeding data shows that only 9 percent of babies are currently given eggs at six months, the recommended age to start weaning. Even at 12 months, only 36 percent at given eggs, with the allergy concerns given as the main reason for avoiding eggs.
Dr. Juliet Grey, co-author of the paper said: “Our review concluded that mums and their babies can be encouraged to eat eggs, as this could have a positive effect in terms of nutritional intake and may also help immune tolerance of eggs.
“The BEIC advice that vulnerable groups can go back to runny eggs, if produced under the Lion scheme, should further reassure women that they can enjoy them normally in pregnancy and give them to their babies when weaning from six months.”
The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) does not advise pregnant women and babies to avoid eggs to reduce the risk of developing allergy, but it does continue to advise all vulnerable groups to make sure that eggs are thoroughly cooked. However, the FSA recognizes the significant progress the UK egg industry has made towards eliminating Salmonella from British Lion eggs and it will be seeking a view from its Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food on the evidence relating to the safety of eggs consumed in the UK early next year.