The Food Standards Agency of the United Kingdom is just about ready to tell pregnant women and other vulnerable groups like the young and the elderly, that its safe to eat lightly cooked or raw eggs. The new guidance for these consumers groups will likely come after an eight-week consultation period for a report suggesting the change, from the FSA’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF). eggsovereasy_406x250The ACMSF study, the first of its kind since 2001, found the UK has experienced a dramatic reduction in microbiological risk of salmonella from shell eggs. The finding that a low risk exists is why FSA is now prepared to say eggs may be served raw or lightly cooked to both healthy and moe vulnerable groups. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance for pregnant women comes down to one word: pasteurization. Pregnant women should use pasteurized eggs at home and ask for them when easting out, according to FDA. They are advised not to use anything other than pasteurized eggs for Caesar salads, raw cookie dough and homemade eggnog. In the United Kingdom, FSA will accept comments on the proposed change to consumer advice until Sept. 16. The agency said it expects to hear from the food industry, consumers, and health care provides, among others. Currently, FDA warns that consuming raw eggs or eggs with runny yolks or any light-cooked or uncooked food can lead to food poisoning, especially among vulnerable groups. “The committee has found that there has been a major reduction  in the risk from Salmonella in UK hens since 2001,” said John Coia, who chairs the ACMSF Expert Ad Hoc Committee on eggs. “This is especially the case for eggs produced under the Lion Code, or equivalent schemes. It is recommended that these eggs could be served raw or lightly cooked to both those in good health and those in more vulnerable groups.” The UK in the late 1980s experienced a large outbreak of Salmonella, which led to the need to slaughter two million infected laying hens and sparked the warning for pregnant women  not to eat uncooked eggs. A junior health minister went further by saying most egg production operations in Britain were contaminated. She was forced to resign. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)