Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Incredible egg

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Since eggs have been getting a bad rap in the news lately I thought it might be helpful to spend a moment talking about salmonella. As my parents can attest to, growing up I was a bit of a germaphobe. I would never touch the trash or the "sink gack" that collects in the drains and I treated raw meat and eggs as though they had the plague. Proper food safety in terms of sterilizing surfaces and washing hands after coming in contact with meat and eggs is always a good (and important) thing but I'm not sure the culture of fear surrounding our food is very healthy even in this age of factory farming.

Last I heard the current egg recall for salmonella is at some 500 million eggs. Over a thousand people have been sickened but nobody has died. So why did I grow up thinking that all eggs were contaminated with salmonella and e. coli and race to scald my hands under soapy, hot water the instant I was through touching them? Fear and misinformation I suppose.

Salmonella in or on eggs is a very rare occurrence and can only happen if the hen herself carries the bacteria but even then, eggs are naturally very resistant to contamination. Think about it; from a reproductive perspective, the purpose of the egg is to protect and nourish the embryo. Eggs have to have built in defenses to fight against contamination for the survival of the hatch.

Here is a very interesting piece that was on NPR the other day that further discusses the ways that eggs can fight back against contamination.

So in an egg shell (har har), if you follow food safety precautions, cook the eggs through and eat them promptly, even if the egg did have salmonella at one point, the cooking process destroyed the pathogen. Of course I wouldn't recommend eating cookie dough made with raw factory farmed eggs but I do enjoy homemade ice cream made with fresh eggs from our hens. Hens that I know are healthy and produce healthy eggs for me, my family and our CSA members.

Just knowing where your food comes from, goes a long way in helping to encourage healthy food safety practices without perpetuating an unnecessary fear of our food.

2 comments:

Rachel Mills said...

I listened to that NPR piece and thought of you guys. Can't wait to see you soon!

Jarom said...

Science for the win!

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