There are numerous recipes which require raw eggs to be added but how safe is it to consume raw eggs, in other words, eggs that have not been cooked to killed possible bacteria?
Whether cooking for your family or professionally, you need to know the risks to avoid putting the health of others at risk. Eggs can present a health risk because they are commonly a source of food poisoning.
The greatest risk is that bacteria that causes food poisoning flourishes exceptionally well in egg based foods. Some of the dishes that are particularly dangerous are mayonnaise based dishes, tiramisu etc. While these dishes are very popular, they can be an extreme hot spot for bacterium to multiply because of their raw egg content.
Dishes that contain uncooked eggs or recipes which call for eggs which aren’t fully cooked can be particularly risky because they can cause food poisoning. One of the greatest risks associated with eggs is Salmonella poisoning, because the egg shell normally contains Salmonella bacteria which can be transferred into the egg when it is cracked.
One of the ways to guard against eggs based foods spoiling is to keep them refrigerated. Some examples of risky foods containing raw egg include mousses and tiramisu, hollandaise sauces, fresh mayonnaise, aioli, health shakes with added raw egg or steak tartar.
Preferably foods containing raw egg should be cooked before human consumption alternatively it should be avoided by people like women, the elderly, babies, children and anyone with a compromised immune system as they are particularly vulnerable to food poisoning.
Why are eggs a perfect breeding ground for bacterium?
Although raw foods in general carry an increased level of risk of Salmonella and food-borne infections as compared to cooked foods, raw animal products (including eggs) are a particular concern because they contain a high protein and fat content – perfect for bacteria.
Raw eggs are full of protein, vitamins and minerals which make them an especially good culture medium (ie. bacteria thrive in this environment and multiply) however the inside of the egg is safe and free of bacteria. The risk is presented by the egg’s shell which is usually covered with dirt and bacteria. When the egg shell is broken to get the inside out, this dirt and bacteria can transfer to the inner of the egg. Because this inside part of the egg is rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals, the bacteria transferred to it can quickly grow and multiply and infect people who consume it, unless the egg is properly cooked prior to consumption.
In addition to eating eggs cooked instead of raw, make sure the shells are not cracked, broken or dirty and always store them in a refrigerator at five degrees Celsius or below. Use eggs within three to five weeks of buying them and always observe the ‘use by’ date on the container. Keep eggs away from other foods and always wash and dry your hands. And after working with eggs, always clean surfaces, sinks, dishes and utensils thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination.