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Fear of Eggs


Craig Camp
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No one has mentioned that some types of people (the very old - the very young - the immunocompromised - etc.) can get very very sick - or die - from something that would just make a normal person feel a little indisposed. Whether it's a problem with an egg - or a rare burger. So should our food handling requirements be geared to "average" people - or those who can't tolerate insults to their bodily systems?

In the US - we answered the question - and said "the latter". In Europe - it's different. Plus - their legal system isn't really geared up to "right all wrongs" - the way the US system is.

I'm not sure that one way is better than the other. They're just different. Robyn

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No one has mentioned that some types of people (the very old - the very young - the immunocompromised - etc.) can get very very sick - or die - from something that would just make a normal person feel a little indisposed. Whether it's a problem with an egg - or a rare burger. So should our food handling requirements be geared to "average" people - or those who can't tolerate insults to their bodily systems?

In the US - we answered the question - and said "the latter". In Europe - it's different. Plus - their legal system isn't really geared up to "right all wrongs" - the way the US system is.

I'm not sure that one way is better than the other. They're just different. Robyn

I think you can see that my opinion tends toward the European standpoint.

I am a healthy young individual with no known allergies to date. I have a hard time seeing the other viewpoint. But, I gladly yield to issues of health and spirituality. For issues of being an ungracious guest, people can kindly expect themselves disinvited from my table.

If, however, it is an unquantifiable or infinitesimal fear that has someone at my table paralyzed, see the sentence about being ungracious.

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.

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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.

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.

In at least some European countries now there are strict limits on the number of chickens in a coop, and it's much smaller than many battery coops in the US, which helps limit the spread of disease (and other problems).

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.

For the individual, that doesn't sound like much of a risk, and it isn't, but from the Fed's point of view, with 300 billion eggs sold every year, that's a lot of potential illness. As with other kinds of food poisoning, the severity can vary a lot, but salmonella is potentially fatal.

On the other hand, I haven't stopped tasting my raw cookie dough.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Eggs are deadly. Never deliberately eat one. Green tomatoes cause cancer. Be forewarned. Don't eat grilled meat, we all know the dangers of that. Bacon will kill you instantly. Take care.

Martinis don't come from vodka and bacon don't come from turkeys!

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Funny, arjay...especially considering your signature. :biggrin:

I don't have a stellar immune system. I wouldn't consider myself immuno-compromised, but I'm not normal. I still taste cookie dough. I try to choose my eggs carefully and not use old eggs. I haven't gotten a bad egg. Its a risk I'm willing to take...and I've had food poisoning. I think the American fear of eggs is a little over-rated. I think the cases of egg related illnesses in the US can probably be attributed to gross mishandling of ingredients.

As I said in my last post...I still won't use raw eggs in food prepared for guests without their knowledge or consent. That is only for fellow chowhounds. :wink:

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

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I love runny fried eggs and a good Caesar salad and now I'm the proud parent of six chicks, nearly hens. I call them "the girls". They seem to like it.

I've been doing a lot of reading about eggs and rasing them. Someone mentioned washing the eggs and that isn't a good idea because there's a protective film on the eggs you will wash off, making them more exposed.

Apparently regular strore bought grade double A treats can be over six months old! They send back old eggs for some kind of funky wash and they're as good as new, ready to be resold and rotated.

America vs Europe is won easily by Europe. Instead of raising humane, fresh healthy chickens and eggs, we wash them and give up the luxury of eating eggs the way we like them. We zap the pork with rays and raise the pigs like they're brussel sprouts. If we did things right in the first place, we wouldn't have to clean up the back end.

I want better, not more!

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Rancho, what breed(s) do you have? At my former job, my friend and cow-orker (haha) brought me eggs from her araucanas: the colors of the shells were amazing, but the fresh flavor was even more amazing!

Now, alas, I either have to remember to buy eggs at the Farmer's Market (there are transport issues), or I get stuck with the slightly older eggs offered at the local grocers.

I hear they replace that protective layer at the supermarkets with a spray of oil or something. Is that true?

Squeat

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I've been doing a lot of reading about eggs and rasing them. Someone mentioned washing the eggs and that isn't a good idea because there's a protective film on the eggs you will wash off, making them more exposed.

Apparently regular strore bought grade double A treats can be over six months old! They send back old eggs for some kind of funky wash and they're as good as new, ready to be resold and rotated.

America vs Europe is won easily by Europe. Instead of raising humane, fresh healthy chickens and eggs, we wash them and give up the luxury of eating eggs the way we like them. We zap the pork with rays and raise the pigs like they're brussel sprouts. If we did things right in the first place, we wouldn't have to clean up the back end.

I want better, not more!

My store bought eggs look pretty clean to me...maybe that's one of the problems. I'd hate to hear the things people would say if the eggs look dirty. :huh: I don't even want to think of a restorative wash...I'm still getting over hormones and preservatives in chicken meat.

When I was in France, the food was wonderful. A friend that I stayed with made pork chops pan seared with sea salt and herbes de provence. They were incredibly good. I've tried several times to duplicate this simple recipe. Our pathetic excuse for pork doesn't come anywhere close. (and I don't overcook it) I can't even begin to imagine how good the eggs would be. I don't remember eating eggs in France. I was enamored with the chocolate crossaints.

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

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It's very difficult to draw authoritative conclusions about eggs and salmonella, or about the differences between Europe and the US on this issue.

Most importantly, the data on incidence of salmonella poisoning in humans are quite difficult to gather. We don't really know how many people in the US or Europe get salmonella poisoning each year: people are highly unlikely to self-diagnose it properly, in mild cases (which are probably most cases) people aren't likely to report it or go to a doctor, and there may be cultural differences in the US and Europe that make it even less likely for Europeans to be diagnosed or seek medical attention for gastroenteritis.

In addition, it is almost impossible to establish a causal connection between tainted eggs and the documented cases of salmonella that have been recorded. Since everybody in the US and Europe is likely to have eaten several hundred eggs in any given year, and since salmonella can come from scores of non-egg sources, it's difficult to include or exclude eggs in a chain of causation.

It may very well be that most incidences of salmonella poisoning stem from the introduction of salmonella during food preparation, and not from the eggs themselves. If that is the case, the focus on egg production, transportation and storage may be misdirected.

It's not entirely clear, but much of what I've read about salmonella indicates that the S. enteritidis "phage 4" subtype -- which has been the focus of much attention -- was first detected in European flocks and then showed up in Southern California.

Certainly, if there is salmonella in an egg, refrigeration will slow its growth. As between two eggs with salmonella, I'd be much happier to eat the refrigerated one. There is little question that from a statistical standpoint, when you look at millions of people, whatever risk of salmonella is attributable to eggs (assuming there is one) is going to be lessened as temperatures drop. From both a disease and a food-preservation standpoint, refrigeration is simply better than non-refrigeration. Whatever else one might say about the hysterics at the American Egg Board, it's hard to disagree with the science behind the statement that if eggs are not properly handled (and in AEB's scheme of things non-refrigeration constitutes improper handling): "Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes and a single bacterium can multiply into more than a million in 6 hours." Wheares, when eggs are refrigerated, the bacteria just won't grow.

Weighed against that, we have the reality that refrigeration is damaging to the flavor of eggs (which is something that safety experts couldn't care less about), and we know that refrigeration encourages vendors to sell older eggs -- that may very well offset some benefits of refrigeration, though not likely on the salmonella front.

Washing eggs is also controversial, and there is good support for both sides of the argument: bacteria can be carried by the dirt and feces that can cling to the exterior of eggs, and washing removes those; at the same time there is an argument that washing the eggs removes a protective layer and makes them more vulnerable to the introduction of bacteria post-washing.

Personally, I think both the American and European cultures have got it wrong. The widespread American paranoia about eggs strikes me as silly (albeit typical of the hysterical American media- and CDC-driven attitude towards risk), yet I can't imagine any good reason to store eggs outdoors, uncovered, at summer temperatures in open air markets, as they do in much of Europe. That is simply an unnecessarily risky behavior, with no upside to counter the potential downside. I can only make my own choices, and my preference is to buy refrigerated eggs from a high-turnover seller (if you have a look at my eGCI "All About Eggs" FAQ there is a full explanation of how to read American egg cartons in order to know exactly how old your eggs are; in most cases where I tested the system they were quite fresh -- there is little incentive to hold them in inventory) for most baking and other ingredient uses, and to acquire greenmarket-quality eggs -- that have been kept cool but not under commercial refrigaration -- for sunny-side-up and other applications where the egg flavor is front and center. When doing a really big baked goods project, like for a party, I'll use cartons of pasteurized eggs -- this is how most professional pastry chefs I know of prefer to work these days.

Cooking eggs through of course destroys salmonella anyway, so all this talk of salmonella and eggs is mostly relevant only to raw and "runny' eggs, although there are still food-handling cross-contamination issues.

I don't blame public health authorities for doing what they do, and it wouldn't surprise me if unrefrigerated eggs come into the cross-hairs in Europe on a continent-wide basis just as raw-milk cheeses have. Public health authorities have to look at things on the macro level and adopt mostly one-size-fits-all solutions. They know that even when the risk of something is one in a million, when you create policy for a whole nation or community of nations you will see actual people die from those one in a million risks. That kind of thinking, which is motivated only by a desire to improve the human condition, has its place. However, so does personal choice, which tends to be at odds with public health policy, especially where such policy is mostly speculative. And in food safety circles I would rather see the quest for zero risk be replaced by an imperative to establish a meaningful definition of acceptable risk.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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(if you have a look at my eGCI "All About Eggs" FAQ there is a full explanation of how to read American egg cartons in order to know exactly how old your eggs are; in most cases where I tested the system they were quite fresh -- there is little incentive to hold them in inventory)

Thank you!

I feel a whole lot better knowing that my eggs are not actually anywhere near 6 months old... well at least not the ones sitting in my refrigerator, today, anyway.

I think it does ultimately come down to a well-informed personal choice. I could choose to not eat eggs, to only eat fully-cooked eggs, or, perhaps, even to eat only eggs that have been irradiated and purchased through questionable black market sources. But I choose to do none of these things. I choose to eat fresh eggs that have been undercooked to my liking, damn it.

Why?

Because I'm an American egg consumer and I will eat my eggs however the eff I want to...

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I think you can see that my opinion tends toward the European standpoint.

I am a healthy young individual with no known allergies to date.  I have a hard time seeing the other viewpoint.  But, I gladly yield to issues of health and spirituality.  For issues of being an ungracious guest, people can kindly expect themselves disinvited from my table.

If, however, it is an unquantifiable or infinitesimal fear that has someone at my table paralyzed, see the sentence about being ungracious.

There's also a difference between what you do at home - and what is acceptable at a commercial establishment. I can't get a rare burger at a restaurant in Florida these days - but I make them at home for myself all the time.

As for guests - I concur 100% when it comes to social guests - the kind you can invite - or not invite. When it comes to family - sometimes it's hard (particularly with elderly parents). On the other hand - last year I made an almost 100% salt free Christmas dinner. I just had to make it low salt - not no salt - but the challenge was fun - and I learned a lot of new recipes. On the third hand - there are just some things that are too much. When my brother makes Thanksgiving - he has to make low salt for my congestive heart failure mother - no sugar for his diabetic father-in-law - no pork for some of the Jewish people in the family who are fussy about things like that - and no meat for the kids who are vegans. I think last year he threw up his hands and decided to go out of town! Robyn

P.S. Let's not forget that it's best to use old eggs when you want to hard simmer them (makes them easier to peel). So fresher isn't always better.

Edited by robyn (log)
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Wow, just look at all the chicken ranchers on this site!! Add me to the number--I have a mixed flock of about 20--buffs, black stars, leghorns, barred rocks, Rhode Island Reds. I also have one duck who lays an egg for me almost every day.

It is "australorp" if you are trying to look it up on the 'Net.

I wash the eggs that are dirty, in water just a bit warmer than the egg--cold water causes the egg to contract, drawing the dirt into the shell. I refrigerate if I have room in the fridge--if not, they may sit on the counter for a couple days til I use them or sell them to friends at work. (Nothing prettier than my big blue ceramic bowl full of half a dozen different shades of brown. :wub: )

Commercial eggs are washed in a sanitizing solution--I forget what is added to the water--and some, not all, are oiled lightly after the wash. (I worked for a mercifully brief time as a USDA poultry grader, both in an egg production facility and Tyson chicken plant.)

Commercial eggs can be kept for up to a month in cold storage before they are packed, but that didn't happen often at the plant where I worked. And I keep my own eggs for a month before I hard boil them--they don't peel otherwise.

sparrowgrass
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  • 2 weeks later...

New to this site, but found this thread interesting. If you are interested in learning more about salmonella and its potential impact you might check out this site, Safe Eggs.

More recently the US Center for Disease Control published data regarding the reduction in the incidence of salmonellosis. The interesting comment they made however is that the reduction has only been made with a few of the serotypes, specifically those related to contact related infections. The more challenging serotype S. Enteritidis which is the type found at the center of the egg has not seen any reduction in the US.

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  • 3 years later...

Well, i'm starting this topic to see what others think. I also thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss.

Yesterday, i had a customer who's a regular at the place i work ask me a interesting question.

He made a Kulula Chocolate Mousse and started talking about all the risks associated with raw eggs consumption. He and his wife were afraid about using the local eggs he got at the farms market, so he went to the local Albertsons and bought some commercial produced eggs.

Does anyone think that eggs bought at the farms market are more at risk of being contaminated with salmonella as oppose to the ones bought at the store?

From what they taught me at the program at school is that all eggs regardless of where they come from can be contaminated. We were also told that salmonella is from the egg shell and that every egg has it. Only with proper preparation can it be safe except for people with low immune functions like elderly and pregnant people.

Does anyone want to add to this.

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I've actually heard people suggest the opposite. That a fresh egg from a local farm is better to use and even less likely to be an issue.

Personally, I use eggs from the grocery store. But that's personally. I'm not doign any commerical cooking/baking.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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This is probably not the most current information - but it basically says salmonella can be in the egg - as opposed to on the shell. I don't think the source of the eggs matters (at least that's the assumption I use when buying and cooking eggs). And even though I am a relatively healthy person - and not too old - and not too young - I have no particular desire to get sick - even if I am expected to recover. So I don't use raw eggs. For people who really want to use raw eggs in certain recipes - or for commercial users - you can buy pasteurized raw eggs. Robyn
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As jsmeeker points out, the reverse is more likely to be true. Commercial chickens are raised in deplorable conditions. Still, one must assume the possibility of Salmonella contamination irrespective of egg source when cooking for the public. For raw egg sauces like mayo and Hollandaise, eggs can be acidulated sufficiently to destroy Salmonella. For non-acidic sauces, eggs that have been pasteurized in-shell should be used.

Kevin

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eggs can be acidulated sufficiently to destroy Salmonella.

Very interesting; never heard or thought about this..

At first I thought you made that up, though after some brief googling..

The eggs used in commercial mayo are pasteurized, pretty much eliminating the risk of salmonella, says Thomas Schwarz, an independent food safety consultant. He says that the acids bring the pH of commercial mayo to about 4.2 to 4.5, which “isn’t very inviting to microorganisms,”
Schwarz says that “homemade mayo is very different,” because the home cook is probably making it from whole, fresh egg yolks, the pH isn’t being measured (to determine how much acid is needed), and it may not be emulsified to sufficiently lower the Aw.

http://www.chow.com/stories/11088

more poking around..

Short-chain organic acids at pH 5.0 kill Escherichia coli and Salmonella

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/1...journalCode=jam

Lemon juice itself is 2.3 already (for you non chemistry folks 7 is neutral 0-14 (lower is more acidic))

So I suppose the point of this, is just support klkruger and teach myself something new

who wouda knew..

Jim

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