December 13, 2018

Australians Have Something to Teach Us: Avoid Raw Eggs

The Australian Food Safety Information council has released a document warning people about the use of raw eggs. It’s summer down under, and food poisoning cases related to eggs can increase in the warmer months. But this information is applicable to everyone, even if it’s -40 degrees F outside.

Broken EggI did a search on the Australian Department of Health and Ageing page, and found twenty reports of Salmonella outbreaks linked to raw and undercooked eggs. In fact, Food Safety Information Chairman Dr. Michael Eyles says that “dishes containing uncooked or minimally cooked eggs can be a particular risk for food poisoning. OzFoodNet has shown that consumption of foods containing raw or minimally cooked eggs is currently the single largest cause of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks [in Australia].”

The first time I heard about raw egg problems was in 1988 at Pillsbury. The government had just put out a warning about the dangers of raw eggs; that was news to me. Many of my favorite recipes included raw eggs. But I changed my cooking habits that day.

This is the advice from experts. Don’t serve dishes containing raw or undercooked eggs to those in high risk groups, including children, pregnant women, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those with chronic illnesses. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk has started to become firm. Never use eggs that have visible cracks. If you drop a piece of shell into a food, that could contaminate the food and it should be thoroughly cooked. If you aren’t going to cook eggs, don’t separate the yolk from the white using the shell because that could contaminate the raw egg. Keep eggs refrigerated, and prepare raw egg foods, if you eat them, just before serving and refrigerate them immediately.

That document has more information for holiday food safety, including tips on safely cooking ham, turkey, and seafood. Stay safe this holiday season and all year round and avoid raw eggs!

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