Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Fear of Eggs


Craig Camp
 Share

Recommended Posts

The last week has been hot here in northern Italy. However, no matter the month the eggs sit unrefrigerated in the stores. The vendors at the outside markets have them stacked in the sweltering heat. Yet, there is not a bit of egg paranoia here. Raw eggs, or almost raw eggs show up in all sorts of dishes. Tiramisú is everywhere and I love the rich red-orange color of the raw egg they crack into the center of my carne cruda at one of my favorite bars. So what's the deal. Are eggs somehow less dangerous in Italy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Italians are less alarmist. Remember that eggs are naturally intended to be sterile (from a fowl point of view) on the inside of the shell. So, an unfertilized egg should stay safe for several days right around body temperature. If you are certain your eggs are fresh and reputable, and you are going to use them within a week, there is little reason in my mind not to leave them at room temperature.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eggs...sterile? The egg shell is a porous substance, allowing air to get to the developing embryo. There is a form of salmonella that DOES (sometimes) permeate this shell as the egg passes through the hen's oviduct.

Some FACTS on salmonella

Salmonella enteritidis

The reason for this is that Salmonella enteritidis silently infects the ovaries of healthy appearing hens and contaminates the eggs before the shells are formed.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you crack open a half million or so eggs into a swimming pool, weight yourself with cinder blocks and jump in you will most certainly drown.

I hate it when that happens!

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That site on egg safety is interesting. I get my eggs from a local farmer. Here is a tip from that site; I want to make mayonnaise in the next couple days--does anyone do this:

"Cooking Egg Yolks for Use in Recipes – Because egg yolks are a fine growth medium for bacteria, cook them for use in mayonnaise, Hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, chilled souffles, chiffons, mousses and other recipes calling for raw egg yolks. The following method can be used with any number of yolks.

"In a heavy saucepan, stir together the egg yolks and liquid from the recipe (at least 2 tablespoons liquid per yolk). Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the yolk mixture coats a metal spoon with a thin film, bubbles at the edges or reaches 160° F. Immediately place the saucepan in ice water and stir until the yolk mixture is cool. Proceed with the recipe."

Finally, I've done Google searches and also searched eGullet, but I must not be searching well because I can't find anything that says how long homemade mayo lasts in the fridge. Can someone tell me?

Sorry to go a little off-topic!

Rachel Sincere
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eggs are pretty safe unless you are serving them to someone who might be immuno-compromised - the very young or the very old, for example.

Mayo will not keep long in the fridge, unles its the commercial kind loaded with stabilisers, as the oil will seperate as it solidifies. On the counter, covered to keep out the flies, it will last a week or so. The acid from the lemon juice of vinegar will keep the bugs away.

More in my unit in eGCI...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the counter, covered to keep out the flies, it will last a week or so.

I would never advocate this practice. Leaving mayo at room temperature for a WEEK? In summertime? No way. Not for me, anyway.

Edited by Pickles (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

These posts once again point out the large difference between egg use in Europe and the USA. There just is not the same paranoia. They buy fresh eggs and use them with confidence. Maybe the main difference is the eggs are fresher here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eggs are pretty safe unless you are serving them to someone who might be immuno-compromised - the very young or the very old, for example.

Mayo will not keep long in the fridge, unles its the commercial kind loaded with stabilisers, as the oil will seperate as it solidifies. On the counter, covered to keep out the flies, it will last a week or so. The acid from the lemon juice of vinegar will keep the bugs away.

More in my unit in eGCI...

All my recipes make two cups of mayonnaise. I wouldn't use that much in a week. I buy the two-cup jar of Hellman's, and I just used the last of a jar that expired 10 days ago. Guess I'll just stick with Hellman's, and make my own if I have a recipe where mayonnaise figures heavily.

Rachel Sincere
Link to comment
Share on other sites

All my recipes make two cups of mayonnaise.

Why follow a recipe for mayo? Use just one egg yolk, salt, pepper, a bit of mustard and some lemon and your oil of choice. One yolk usually sucks up about 3/4 cup of oil when I make it. This will yield about a cup or less of mayo. I've never really ever measured it out once it's made...but it's not a huge amount of finished mayo. If it's not enough, make some more. :raz:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hellman's mayonnaise tastes nothing at all like homemade mayonnaise made with really good olive oil.

My understanding is that the incidence of salmonella contamination is much, much higher in many parts of the US than in most places in Europe. I believe conditions at the farm, are to blame and that freshness is not as great an issue. We believe we are playing the odds by buying eggs from small local and sometimes organic farms where there are cleaner conditions and frequent inspections. We eat fried eggs sunny side up and softboiled eggs that are very runny. Spaghetti a la carbonera is made by putting hot pasta in raw eggs and the eggs are still quite uncooked when the pasta comes to the table. I probably wouldn't feed any of that to a baby.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These posts once again point out the large difference between egg use in Europe and the USA. There just is not the same paranoia. They buy fresh eggs and use them with confidence. Maybe the main difference is the eggs are fresher here.

There have been exhaustive studies on this. Battery-maintained chickens are far more prone to salmonella infection than free range chickens. The incidence is far lower in England and Europe than it is here.

Salmonella in amounts to cause illness is only found in one out of 50,000 eggs and of those, many do not make it to market or are sold to companies that prepare cooked egg products. Therefore the actual number that will show up in the egg case at a market might be one in 200,000 or less.

However remote the chance, I buy pasturized eggs when I am going to be using the eggs raw. They are more expensive but I am then sure that I will not be harming myself or the people who will be eating my food.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Before reading this thread I knew very little about egg saftey. I buy my eggs from the farmer I work for, but that's because they taste better and I would rather give him my money than some chain supermarket. But I never gave much thought as to why we Americans are nutty about pasturized eggs.

Reading this thread seems to be the perfect example of the differences between the food philosophies of Europe and the US. Frankly, I think Europe is still doing it right.

In Europe the emphasis is placed on fresh, local ingredients that will only last a few days. Here in the US the emphasis is placed on the cheapest brand possible lasting as long as possible.

It does not surprise me that in our bigger, faster, longer world over here we are subject to food borne illnesses that are not an issue elsewhere in the world. I wonder what percentage of Americans eat eggs that are less than a week old? I bet it is not that high.

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

for myself, i find worrying the odds of getting a bad egg tedious, if not irritating. i know i'm healthy enough that if i get sick once out of every 50,000 eggs i eat--i will probably somehow survive.

of course, i'm not elderly, an infant or immuno compromised. i eat with abandon and i feel it's my right. i have some immuno compromised friends, and when they eat eggs they simply order them well done. no big deal.

unfortunately in my neck of the woods, my ability to eat anything made publicly from "pooled raw eggs" is severely limited. all raw egg based emulsifications are, restaurant wise, against the law. hollandaise etc, is regularly made in portland from commercially pasteurized eggs; in my experience, it's yucky.

(you can't even store eggs on the upper shelves in refrigerators, lest a random broken egg leaks into other products below. from lay experience, maybe 1 egg out of every 30 dozen arrives broken. few of these broken eggs would leak through the packing, but let's just say 1 out of 2 to be liberal. if you accept my 1 in 720 number, my local government is creating rules to protect a small segment of the public from the dangers of raw eggs not just at the level of 1 in 50,000, but 1 in 36 million. go, multnomah county, oregon!)

none of which would really bother me if there were a truly good substitute for raw eggs. but so far as i've experienced, there isn't. :angry:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand health standards, but I also think there are people who are afraid of EVERYTHING.

If it isn't salmonella, it's West Nile Virus. If it's not the Russians, it's the Iraqis. If it's not air bags, it's the lack of air bags. I have a friend who, upon learning that my husband (deliberately) did not renew his contractor's license, wouldn't let him fix her towel racks (so they didn't wobble out of the wall and kill someone!). She was so afraid that Something Bad Would Happen and someone would sue someone.

(Oh, and I am afraid of a whole lot of stuff but nothing food related, except that someone will irradiate or genetically engineer perfectly good plants that go into my body or that of someone I love. On the other hand, I frequently run yellow lights when they're still pink. So.)

My problem with eggs at room temp is that they break in the bowl much more easily, when I've been trying to separate them (you know, racially, because whites can't mix with yolks!). Seriously, it's very frustrating. Plonk! Another one bites the dust.

Eggs at room temp are more delicate. Too delicate for my home use.

Ciao.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eggs are only dangerous when they're bad... :wink:

I have no way of knowing how old the eggs that I get at the supermarket actually are. A ten cent egg is not worth a $400 ER visit if I were to leave it out on the counter and it were to go South on me. If it were fresh farm eggs, it would be different...but I would have to see the farm and check out the operation. Its really pathetic how a lot of Americans really don't care about their reputations as proprieters and are more concerned about $$$ and quantity than they are about quality. That concerns me when lack of quality can affect my health. I think Europe is different because people seem to love their food and quality of that food and their lives more. I also don't think fellow townspeople would stand for sub-quality products...the offending proprieters would be run out of town on a rail. :blink: (in smaller towns...I think the metropolises have become Americanized)

I admit that I eat raw eggs. If its for something I'm cooking for someone else, I cook the eggs or buy pasturized eggs for raw egg recipes. America is way too litigation happy for me not to.

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So... I'm going to ask a question that I know is rhetorical. Why do Americans always look to eggs when we hear of Salmonella? Haven't we learned anything more about food safety than we knew 30 years ago?

Salmonella is everywhere. When I got salmonellosis, it was traced back to a food counter at a sporting event that had no eggs or poultry whatsoever. The stuff is like tetanus. It lives in dirt and just happens to be pathenogenic, too. It's not an obligate human parasite. Yes, I understand we must be reasonably careful, but an occasional cut, scrape, bruise, or illness is a price I'm willing to pay to not be frightened. I make certain the people I know and cook for are prepared for my food, because if they can't eat it, they're going home hungry. And, if they can't handle it because they are C.S., they ain't no real friends of mine.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm relatively ignorant on the subject of egg safety though I'm aware of all the recipes I see with the good old raw egg warning on them. I never did well in science in school so if the answer is too technical it won't mean a whole lot to me.

What is important to me is the fact that I like raw or undercooked eggs. I grew up with a Dad who ate coddled eggs every day and I too like them. When I'd go get a malt I'd get one with an egg thrown in. I use to like spaghetti with just parmesan cheese, a little olive oil , and a raw egg on it.

I stayed away from using raw eggs for several years. Finally I sort of said the hell with it and have gone back to using them. If I do get a bad egg how sick will I actually get? I have no idea. On another note, why do they have to dis my favorite fish by using its name in a disease? Couldn't they at least change it to sardinella?

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I understand we must be reasonably careful, but an occasional cut, scrape, bruise, or illness is a price I'm willing to pay to not be frightened. I make certain the people I know and cook for are prepared for my food, because if they can't eat it, they're going home hungry. And, if they can't handle it because they are C.S., they ain't no real friends of mine.

Hear, hear!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I do get a bad egg how sick will I actually get? I have no idea.

If it is salmonella, you'll be sick, sick, sick for days. I have seen temp spikes of 106 brain-threatening degrees, but most are somewhat lower than that. Usually don't have to be hospitalized unless the temp can't be kept down. I have had it twice, and didn't enjoy it enough to want to repeat it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it is salmonella, you'll be sick, sick, sick for days.

Hear, hear. I've had it likewise. I was quite ill for a week, but still to ill to go to school the second week. It took about 6 weeks for my gut to settle down to a normal diet after I was back on my feet 2 weeks post-contraction.

But, salmonella isn't the only thing you can get from bad eggs. It's just the most well-known (American pop-culture-wise). From improperly handled eggs (contaminated with other foods) you could get the whole range. Anything from mild stomach upset to things that make you lose 10 pounds in 1 hour (or close).

But, generally, you will know the egg is BAD because it smells like, well, rotten eggs. Hence the term in the American vernacular.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

several years ago when i was still editing, one of my reporters did a piece on eggs and salmonella during the course of which she went back and analyzed all the original cdc incident reports. during the salmonella "epidemic" she found you were far more likely to die from being hit by lightning than from salmonella from an egg. furthermore, at teh root of almost every outbreak was an incident of truly unconscionable food handling--one cook left french toast batter sitting at room temperature for several hours .... in a nursing home!

still, i do refrigerate my eggs at home, but i will NOT give up my raw and lightly cooked egg sauces.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...