Food For Thought – Buying Safe Eggs
By Leanne Ely, C.N.C.
With all the scary “egg news” in the media these days you might be afraid to eat eggs at this point. But the truth is, what is happening can be avoided. Eggs pose a potential safety problem because they are highly susceptible to bacteria. You should never buy eggs that have not been refrigerated because they are more likely to cause problems.
It is very important to buy the freshest eggs possible. Most grocery store refrigerator cases are stocked from the back so be sure to take cartons from the back of the case. Check the dates printed on the cartons and look for the freshest ones available. It’s also a good idea to try to buy the coldest carton available.
Open the carton and inspect each egg for signs of cracking or breakage. This means lifting each egg out of the carton individually so you can see the entire surface. Do not buy eggs that are cracked because even slight cracks give bacteria a chance to enter. Shiny shells usually indicate older eggs so go for the ones with dull shells.
Buy locally produced eggs from a local family farm. If you pay attention to the news you’ll see that most of the problems come from factory-farmed eggs. The chickens are kept in horrible conditions, and the mass production, combined with horrible unsanitary conditions contributes to an epidemic of health issues. Healthy chickens produce healthy eggs, conversely, unhealthy chickens produce unhealthy eggs.
Another precaution you can take is to wash the egg shell before breaking. Simply rinse under cold water and wipe with a dry clean cloth before cracking. Finally, cook your eggs thoroughly and do not eat raw eggs in any way such as in cookie dough or cake batter…don’t even lick the beaters.
If you still feel uneasy about eggs, you might want to buy pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs undergo a treatment that kills bacteria like salmonella as well as viruses without harming the egg itself. These eggs are slightly more expensive but many people feel that the peace of mind is worth the extra pennies. It’s even safe to sample cookie dough when you use pasteurized eggs but some people believe that pasteurized eggs are lacking in nutrition and have their own problems.
Some other egg substitutes are available as well. There are egg substitutes you can purchase that are made up mostly of egg whites to avoid the cholesterol-laden yolks. These liquids are pasteurized which means they are safer than shell eggs. They work well for dishes like scrambled eggs. If you are looking to replace eggs in baking recipes, you might want to use powdered egg substitute which is also a very safe option. In addition you can replace eggs in baking by using flax seed meal. You use 1 tablespoon flax seed with three tablespoons water to replace the egg. It works great for muffins, cupcakes, cakes, and more.
Leanne, Your Dinner Diva Saving Your Dinner since 2001, https://savingdinner.com
Hi! I read all your emails sent via FlyLady! You are wonderful! Great post, I have a few things to add and things to ponder. I was a Community Health major in college back in the mid 80’s. My classes in Microbiology and Epidemiology (basically the study of disease transmission) taught me so much about proper food preparation in regards to avoiding food-borne illnesses. One area discussed, salmonella and eggs.
Did you know that salmonella is not found on the inside of the egg? When a hen lays her egg, if she has salmonella, the egg shell becomes contaminated with it when the egg passes from her body, and the salmonella doesn’t pass through the shell into the egg until the shell is cracked. Great reason to not buy or use already cracked eggs! Also, the bacteria can be passed to the egg via cracking the egg for cooking. Washing the eggs prior in soapy water will prevent this, not just water, soap to kill the bacteria, just like hand washing!
I open up every box of eggs to check for cracks before purchasing, but do not touch or lift to check the undersides, and I throw out the ones cracked on the bottom and take it as a minor loss. I’m not sure asking everyone shopping to handle every single egg they buy and then continue shopping without washing their hands; that method could possibly cross-contaminate everything in the store they touch after that point, and they could pass along more than just salmonella. Massive food-borne illnesses are easier to prevent than we think, if the end consumer does our part. Carry sanitizer with you and use it during shopping, or grab the extra free wipes used to wipe down your cart handles, and wipe your hands after handling meat and produce before touching other items. Wash and rinse well all produce you buy; think of how many handled it before you, and not everyone washes their hands properly! Assume it’s contaminated, and wash it! Ok, there’s my 2 cents worth, well, maybe a $1. 😉