Eating Raw Eggs:
Is It Safe?
Is eating raw eggs safe?
You’ll notice that some of my recipes, like this
Caesar Salad recipe,
call for the use of raw eggs, but you've probably heard conflicting information about the wisdom of doing that.
What's the problem?
There is a small but real chance that raw eggs may be contaminated with the bacteria that causes salmonellosis.
OK, what's salmonellosis?
- It's a foodborne illness whose symptoms are similar to those of the flu.
- It can be a serious illness in people whose immune systems are compromised.
- It's is generally a benign, self-limiting illness in healthy people. However, no one wants to get it! Contracting any foodborne illness can be a miserable experience.
What's the risk?
According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2002, about 1 in every 20000 eggs produced in that country is contaminated with salmonella, the bacteria that causes salmonellosis.
What do the experts say?
Most health authorities recommend that no one eats raw eggs, ever.
Is that necessary?
Well, maybe not. Here are some things to consider.
- Only sick chickens lay salmonella-contaminated eggs.
- The healthier the bird and its environment and feed, the less risk there is of salmonella contamination.
- You can reduce your chance of buying contaminated eggs by choosing only eggs from high-quality, organically fed, cage-free chickens, preferably from a small local farm. Of course, high quality eggs are typically quite a bit more expensive than eggs from industrially-raised chickens.
So, what should I do?
It's up to you!
- Perhaps you’ll decide that eating raw eggs is not for you or your family.
You can use pasteurized “egg products” when preparing foods that call for raw eggs.
- Perhaps you’ll decide that you will serve dishes made with raw eggs to healthy non-pregnant adults, but not to children, those with compromised immune systems, or the elderly.
Whatever you choose, make sure that you are comfortable with your decision - and enjoy eating eggs!
Return from eating raw eggs to egg recipes.
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