Raw and undercooked eggs have been on the watch list of foods potentially contaminated with salmonella bacteria and other bad bugs that cause food poisoning for years.
“No sunny side up eggs anymore,” says noted food safety expert Missy Cody, PhD RD, professor emeritus Georgia State University, “Or undercooked scrambled eggs, unless they’re made with a pasteurized egg product.” When eggs are pasteurized, they are heated to a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. Pasteurized egg products, like frozen and liquid eggs are safe to consume even when undercooked or used raw in making ice cream or hollandaise sauce.
Eggs are among the most nutritious and economical foods on the menu; tips to help you safely enjoy those delicious dozens.
1. Keep eggs refrigerated at all times. Cody cautions, “And beware of breakfast places that keep raw eggs near the hot griddle. The heat will make salmonella which may be in the eggs grow much faster.” Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 1 hour.
2. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise or Caesar salad dressing) that may call for raw eggs.
3. No matter how tempting, avoid licking the cake batter off the spoon. Make sure eggs used in baked goods or casseroles are thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Meringue-topped pies and soufflés should be baked at 350 degrees F for at least 15 minutes.
4. Sunny side up not a bright idea. Whether boiled, poached or fried; eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm and eaten promptly after cooking. Undercooked egg whites and yolks have been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis infections.
5. Contaminated eggs will not smell, look or taste any different from normal eggs. However, always discard cracked or dirty eggs.
6. Eating raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided by young children, pregnant women, elderly and those with weakened immune systems due to serious illness.