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Are raw eggs still dangerous?

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I buy free range, antibiotic free etc. I would like to make mayo or Caesar dressing with them but I still feel paranoid about raw eggs.

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  1. They never really were dangerous. Mass media induced hysteria is the source of these fears.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      I had a sense that was the case, but old habits die hard.

      1. re: Aimee

        Isn't the statistic something like 1 in 20,000 eggs contains salmonella? That's got to be less than the rate in the chickens sold for meat.

      2. re: fmed

        I don't know, I have read all things, but I'll be 50 and Mom always served them in caesar and milk shakes and still eat them today. I don't think twice. May not be the right thing, but ... I worry more about crossing my busy street then eating a raw egg these days. I do buy the most local date but honestly, just from the local store. I may be taking a chance but there is so much more out there to worry about that it isn't a concern. But I do try to buy a fresh date and use quickly.

        Hope that doesn't make me a bad person.

      3. I never stopped making mayo or eating my eggs lightly cooked. I buy free-range eggs directly from a local farmer, and I never worry about their quality.

        7 Replies
        1. re: pikawicca

          Same here. The only people who need to be cautious are the very young, very elderly and the autoimmune impaired. Then you might want to use pasteurized eggs that have an FDA seal of approval on them. I am studying the Safe-Serve course in anticipation of being certified for food handling in the shop. My text also says NOT to wash eggs prior to use and storage. Commercially produced eggs have been washed and sanitized at the packing facility

            1. re: Candy

              Why no washing of eggs? Sometimes the ones from the farmer's market have a little schmootz on them...seems wise to get rid of whatever that is before cracking the egg...

              I use raw/undercooked egg rather freely, but I buy local from known sources.

              pikawicca, I appreciate your candor downthread
              : )

              1. re: pitu

                water can weaken the shells, making them more permeable and thus susceptible to rot or adopting nearby odors.

                i like runny eggs, eat raw batter, home-made mayo, etc. i'm a thrill seeker.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I wash just before cracking the shell

                2. re: pitu

                  Also if you crack an egg properly, you'll get none of the inside egg on the outside shell.

                  1. re: pitu

                    Note: my comment is about not washing commercially produced eggs. These are not farmer's market eggs.

              2. I worked for the egg industry for several years, got a full inside scoop. I eat eggs practically every day still, usually on the runny side. Yes, some eggs have salmonella in them. The chance of getting one of those lessens just slightly when you buy from local sources because the eggs are fresher (presumably) - fewer layers of handling from farmer to you. That said, large egg producers work just as hard at keeping flocks healthy, sanitized their processing areas, packaging, chilling and shipping cold. The older the egg, the longer bacteria has to flourish. Cold slows down bacteria growth. Heat kills it. So, buy COLD local eggs, keep 'em cold, eat 'em quickly -- if you make fresh mayo, keep it cold and eat it today.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pattilondre


                  Factory eggs? Not for me, thank you very much -- a totally corrupted product, IMO. They don't taste good, either!

                  1. re: pattilondre

                    If the local small farmer follows a program for washing and cooling his eggs and has regular testing done on his flock for Salmonella spp. then I'll agree with you. Unfortunately most small farmers cannot do these economically, so I would not say they are safer. They may taste better and if you have grown up on them you might have resistance to Salmonella spp., but don't say they are safer.

                    1. re: Bryn

                      Woah there - I'm not so sure people can develop resistance to certain bacteria. The bacteria themselves can often develop resistance to antibiotic medicine, but unless you're a Phd. I'd hesitate to make statements like that.

                      1. re: SQHD

                        I'd go along with the natural "flora and fauna" in an area but not true pathogens. When people get diarrhea in Mexico (I never have), it's not "food poisoning" (vague term) but just that there gut has its own *f&f* that's different from where they are and what they're eating. The only time I've had salmonella was from tainted peanut butter 2-1/2 years ago.

                        1. re: SQHD

                          Look at Raw milk. They tend to have a higher CFU/g infection rate than us city folks. I didn't say immunity I said resistance.

                    2. If raw cookie dough is in front of me, it will be eaten. But I like to live on the edge...

                      1. "696,000 and 3,840,000 cases of foodborne salmonellosis occur each year"


                        If you guys want to eat raw eggs, go right ahead. It ain't happening in Casa Jfood.

                        21 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          Hi, J,

                          I believe that the vast majority of those food poisoning cases have nothing to do with eggs. Most are due to cross-contamination with raw meat.

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            probably true, and jfood grew up licking the cake batter bowl. But for some reason he can not do it any longer. sometimes age does not bring wisdom, but brings fear.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Strangely enough, I eat over easy eggs and homemade mayo, but raw cookie dough leaves me cold: I have never eaten a tad of this stuff, and never will. I think it's a texture issue. That said, J, if you've never had homemade mayo, you are missing a huge Chowhound experience. My god,artichoke dipped in good mayo is one of the tatsiest things on the planet.

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                No raw cookie dough???!!? I'm surprised at the never have/never will on raw cookie dough. It's texture is a little squidgy, but not a deal breaker... besides, you don't eat a ton (well, I don't). Raw Tollhouse ChocChip dough is my favorite. I have a friend (I swear it's not me!) that will make up a batch just to eat it raw.... no intention on baking a thing. She cracks me up.

                                1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                  I'd say that about a fourth of the dough I make for CC cookies winds up in my mouth raw. Butter. Sugar. Chocolate... How can it not be good?

                                  On more than one occasion I've thrown together a small bowl of cookie dough just dough to eat raw. Since I'm not baking it, I don't have to worry about proportions, and I can leave out the egg. Soften butter with spoon, add sugars, then flour, nuts and chocolate chips. So wrong, but so good.

                              2. re: jfood

                                I just made a batch of Alton Browns party mayo. Uses one whole egg and one yolk. It says to give the mix 2 hours before going into the fridge to combat bacteria. I add a couple of cloves of raw garlic not only for flavor but because it is anti-bacterial.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Or circumstances change over time....

                                2. re: pikawicca

                                  CDC reports that 75% of salmonella illnesses are from eggs. However, with recent tomato/pepper, peanut paste, pistachio outbreaks, this % will change.

                                  1. re: BetteAnne

                                    What year is that from? It can vary wildly from year to year. This article http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/... says that in 2001 it was 80% of cases from eggs and it plummeted to 10% in 2002.

                                3. re: jfood

                                  "Between 696,000 and 3,840,000" -- first, that range is so huge as to be, essentially, a meaningless statistic. My guess is what it means is that they have some number quite a bit less than 696,000 of documented cases, and from there they're extrapolating using a number of highly speculative variables. Second, even at the upper end of the range, the number is incredibly small considering the 75 billion eggs consumed in the U.S. every year -- roughly one case of salmonella for every 19,000 eggs consumed. And of course, as others have mentioned, eggs cause only a small fraction of the cases of salmonella.

                                  Are raw eggs completely risk free? No. If you drop one on the floor you might slip and hurt yourself. Or you might get salmonella. I bet the odds are about the same.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      I was exaggerating (eggsaggerating?). What was left out of my calculation was, of course, that most of the eggs consumed are cooked -- the number of cases per raw egg consumed is much, much higher. Still, as risks go, not a particularly high one. As with all risk assessment, you need to weigh the benefits of consuming the raw egg against the risk. Risk tolerance is a really individual decision.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    So you eat your tartare without egg?! Horrors!

                                    1. re: tmso

                                      Nope, jfood does not eat beef tartare at all, oh the confessions continue to pile up.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I'll have your portion, thank you! ;)

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          Cannibal Sandwiches, one of the treats of my youth: lightly-buttered rye bread, home-ground beef sirloin, slice sweet onion, sour cream. God, these were so good. I may just have to make myself one for dinner since DH is dining out tonight.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            So no raw eggs in the tartare because there's no tartare for the eggs to go in. Yikes. Are jfood's steaks and boiled eggs cooked all the way through as well?

                                            (And ... has jfood heard of Mett? Yum!)

                                            1. re: tmso

                                              jfood likes his steaks black-and-blue sometimes and med-rare others. totally different analysis. he does not eat bolied eggs (other than for egg salad on a regular basis but the answer to your quesstion is that he is ok with coddled eggs, so that should give you a sense. Likewise he orders his eggs over easy.

                                              1. re: tmso

                                                I never heard of Mett, but just googled it and am cracking up over the hedgehog presentations. I thought it must be a hoax, but there is more than one photo. Check this out:

                                          2. re: jfood

                                            Shhhh, don't tell jfood. I just licked the spoon from the uncooked souffle I'm fixing tonight. Since we're all in confession mode.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              not to worry. your secret is safe with jfood. he will not tell anyone.

                                          3. When I bake cookies, at least 20% of the dough goes directly in my mouth before having a chance to be dropped on the pan. I like my eggs a little underdone. And one of my favorite desserts is semifreddo, which uses raw egg whites. I tend to use up my eggs quickly before anything too funky happens within.

                                            If you're concerned, you should seek out pasteurized eggs; they seem to be easy to find these days. At least twice as expensive, but worth it maybe for the peace of mind or if you're serving a raw egg dish to company.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Agent Orange

                                              egg whites are lower risk than egg yolks. They have lysozymes in them that are anti-bacterial.

                                            2. I make my mayo - using store bought eggs. I'm not sure that free range antibiotic free would be any safer.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                Local, free-range chickens are not laying eggs in tiered wire cages where hens are crapping on the hens and eggs beneath them. Sorry to be so gross, but this is something you should know.

                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  pika, I know (I work in agricultural and environmental science) the horrors of American factory food production (but which generally does not include chickens shitting on their neighbors below). All I was referring to was that free range animals can also run into problems brought by rats, opossums, racoons, migratory birds, shrews, voles, bats, dogs, cats, airborne spores, soil borne pests and diseases, ... you name it. I'm very careful in my adopting fears; and even more so in adopting a popular fear over a less likely one. As I said, "I'm not sure that free range antibiotic free would be any safer." I don't have an opinion one way or the other, but don't want to assume one conclusion over any other without evidence.

                                              2. I eat raw and almost raw eggs so moot question for me. But it got me to wondering if the eggs that are used in carbonara are actually cooked? I'd vote no. They're mixed up with other ingredients and the pasta is added but I'm betting they're at best just cooked a little. Are they any more cooked than the ones in Caesar? These boards always make me think.

                                                1. When it comes to food safety, I think we should give irradiation a second look.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Soup

                                                    Agreed. I don't think I've seen any examples of it used on eggs though. I'd love a medium well hamburger, but I live in alberta where E.coli O157:H7 is abundant.

                                                    1. re: Bryn

                                                      So far, no has been able to come up with way to pasteurize eggs with microwave technology/irradiation.

                                                      One company that I know of pasteurizes whole, shell eggs with warm water. It seems that the general public would be more accepting of that method.

                                                  2. I agree with the irradiation. Most people that have problems with it, just never took enough nuclear physics to understand that gamma rays just pass through and don't taint food in anyway.

                                                    As for the raw egg phobia, I wouldn't worry about it. Worry more about the cook in the Greasy spoon, Chinese or Mexican restaurant that doesn't wash his hands after taking a dump...

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: hankstramm

                                                      Yeah, a neighbor of mine got sicking from drinking from a pitcher of beer in Costa Rica. I told her it was probably the pitcher from the food handler and NOT the beer. Of course, she didn't believe me :(

                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        Of course, there is no way of knowing what sickened your friend. Tracking food poisoning sources is really tricky.

                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          I just figure the alcohol would kill anything.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            I thought that, too, until I saw mold growing from my vanilla bean in home made vanilla (made with expensive vodka). It was tough to throw out such a large bottole but I figured I don't want to be eating any mold that can survive in vodka!

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              I'm not doubting you but are you sure it was molding or was it just the vanilla bean breaking down in the the vodka?

                                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                I wasn't sure at first and kept looking at it in the jar. But, I took it out and it looked like mold (fuzzy gray growth off of the bean), not like vanilla bean breaking down, or even part of it crystalizing which I've heard it can do. I don't know for sure, since I didn't have it analyzed but it looked enough like it that I didn't want to take the chance. I did google it and it never came up as a regular phenomenon of making vanilla. It was odd.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  It does seem odd. I'd probably thrown it out as well Better safe than sorry.

                                                                  One more question, was the bean still completely submerged?

                                                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                    Yes, with inches of alcohol to spare. It wasn't so much the cost of the vodka that bothered me but the two months I was waiting anxiously for it. The funny thing is I made another bottle for a friend and hers was fine, even months after.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      I've been trying to find out if it's possible for mold to grow in vodka and I haven't found a great answer yet but this thread on how to make your own vanilla extract was pretty informative.


                                                                      One of the posters had this to say to someone who believed their batch had gone moldy. "The "sediment" you are seeing is definitely not mold. What you are seeing are the tiny vanilla bean pieces that are inside the larger vanilla beans, little black specks. Also, the longer the beans set in the vodka, the more the pieces swell and some times tiny slivers come off of the orginal (sic) bean pieces...not a problem though."

                                                                      But as I said before if I saw what you saw I'd probably have tossed the vodka, the same as you.

                                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                        Thanks--I did see that site when I was looking and looked closely at it (hoping that it was something along those lines). It didn't seem like it was the little specks, or slivers that had swelled. It was definitely fuzzy patches, along the bean, and growing off of it. In all honesty, I don't know for sure that it was mold and it seemed weird that, if it were possible, I couldn't find anything at all about it online. But, I decided that if it were mold, it would be the MRSA of mold if it could live in alcohol like that.

                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                          Lived in Mexico for a while and that's (along with fresh veggies and fruits) where much of the food borne illness comes from. There are intestinal parasites that are very common fare down there that are unequivocally from dirty handed sources.

                                                      2. There are 3 things in your kitchen that kill salmonella. Heat, acid, and sugar. Lemon juice and vinegar both fall into the acid category. At least 1 is included in most versions of caesar dressing or mayo.

                                                        Salmonella is a dirt disease, not a chicken disease. Ethically farmed eggs tend to be much less dirty than factory farmed examples.

                                                        29 Replies
                                                        1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                          Thanks for all the replies. The lemon juice point convinced me. I'm making Caesar dressing next week.

                                                          1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                            I've heard hot sauce kills the germs, and that's why you should put it on raw shellfish, but maybe only ones like Tabasco that have vinegar? I always just drink a few shots to kill the germs, like my mother taught me!

                                                            1. re: coll

                                                              Tapatio, Sri Racha, Tabasco, they are all basically chilis preserved with vinegar.

                                                              1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                                That's good to know!
                                                                Just noticed, when I said I drink a few shots with my shellfish, I meant Vodka! not hot sauce.

                                                            2. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                              From the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:

                                                              Q. Are chickens labeled "Kosher," "free-range," "organic," or "natural" lower in Salmonella bacteria?
                                                              A. FSIS does not know of any valid scientific information that shows that any specific type of chicken has more or less Salmonella bacteria than other poultry.

                                                              There is no reason to believe that free-range eggs or eggs bought from a local farmer are any more or less safe than regular eggs from the supermarket.

                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                The difference I've read between factory farm and local small farm is rate of contamination, as with peanut butter and spinach in production. One bad batch can contaminate a lot more in factory farm. The kosher, free-range, organic, natural labels make no difference if it's factory farmed. If you pick your own peanuts and grind them, there's less chance of contamination from hundreds of other farms that affect pb in so many products. I was surprised at how extensive one factory could be.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  I agree to a certain extent, but bigger producers also tend to be inspected more often and have stricter pathogen control programs and QA/QC programs.

                                                                  1. re: Bryn

                                                                    You would hope, but that didn't happen with the peanut butter problem. If I know the people raising the chickens, or know more about them even if I don't know them personally, than w/ large factory farms, I'm happier.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      Most people do not personally know the people raising the chickens who lay the eggs that they buy. If they do, have they been out to see the farm and how they actually clean the eggs?

                                                                      I agree that most small farmers are honest and good, but that's still a fairly romantic notion among people who think that large scale farmers are automatically bad, wrong, dishonest, evil, etc., and small = good.
                                                                      If they didn't have a negative bias, they wouldn't use prejudicial and emotionally loaded terminology like "factory farm."

                                                                      There will always be terrible incidents like the PB plant and it got WIDE publicity because it had a WIDE market.
                                                                      A small organic PB plant would have gotten little publicity because it would have had a SMALL market.
                                                                      There are good and bad producers in all categories, whether they are small individuals or large corporations.
                                                                      Some people will always cut corners to make a buck and not care if they screw the consumer. Others are ethical and caring.
                                                                      Size is not an indicator.

                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        The peanut butter problem happened because some dumba$$ manager told their QC/QA guy to let the product be released instead of destroying it. I'm in this profession and I believe that they charged with Manslaughter. If you know there are high levels of Salmonella in your product that is stored at room temperature don't sell it. But comparing peanut butter to eggs isn't similar at all. Totally different foods, processing conditions, and storage conditions.

                                                                        1. re: Bryn

                                                                          I'm glad they're prosecuting with manslaughter for that case. It seems to have dropped off the news. I have worked in factory food (salads and such) and it is clean, probably more sterile than my house so I'm not putting down all factory production. My point is that one bad egg, so to speak (meaning owner, not an actual egg), can cause much more serious damage than a smaller producer. And on a large farm, there are more risks with diseases. My neighbor might not have inspectors checking her pool but I still prefer to swim in it over the municipal pools where thousands of people swim, though I do both.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            no I said it was my opinion that they should be. Sorry.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              The USDA statistics say that there are NOT more risks with large farms than with small farms.
                                                                              It really serves no purpose to scare people. Too many get wrapped around their axles on this kind of stuff which they can only solve by never eating outside their own homes and living like Seinfeld's Bubble Boy.
                                                                              Sooner or later, they're going to eat at the home of a friend, or God Forbid!!!, at a public accommodation like a restaurant that serves eggs from a mysterious source. My Lord! Are they risking their lives??? Or at least serious illness?
                                                                              A simple risk assessment analysis should be enough to put people's minds' at ease.
                                                                              Unless there is a problem with immune system deficiency, eggs shouldn't be a problem, even raw.

                                                                      2. re: chowser

                                                                        Let's be honest. Chickens are dirty wherever they're raised.
                                                                        A freshly laid egg, right out of the hen is not what a lot of people think. It's got pin feathers and dirt stuck to it with chicken shit and other stuff that I'm not even sure what it is.
                                                                        Those eggs have to be washed and sanitized before they're used or marketed.
                                                                        The big producers, as Bryn says are inspected more frequently, in addition to having better equipment to sanitize those eggs.

                                                                        Salmonella is IN the chicken's intestinal track whether the hen house or barnyard is dirty or antiseptic.
                                                                        It can be IN the egg BEFORE the shell is even formed.
                                                                        A chicken with salmonella can lay 4 good eggs and 1 with salmonella.
                                                                        Salmonella can be ON the shell which proper sanitizing can remove. What if a small farmer doesn't do that properly?
                                                                        Sanitizing lessens the risk, but there is still some risk whether the egg comes from a large producer or a farmer with 6 hens if the salmonella is in the egg itself.

                                                                        City folks romanticize "farm fresh eggs" and think that buying them from a nice farmer at a market means that they're getting something pure and wholesome, but perhaps that egg hasn't been sanitized as well as they might think.

                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                          It could be that I've never visited large farms but at farms I've visited, and stayed at, the eggs weren't that visibly dirty. I'd get up early with my kids and pick eggs for breakfast and didn't feel they couldn't touch the eggs. They did wash their hands after. I have no idea what an egg looks like out of a hen in a factory farm. They could look just as clean or as dirty as you've seen.

                                                                          I don't know about other "city folks" but I don't think the eggs come out of the chicken any cleaner than factory farmed chicken but do think the disease rate is lower simply in the same way home schooled children would come across fewer germs than children in a school. Honestly, I don't care about the 1 in 20,000 odds of getting salmonella. I'll eat raw eggs regardless but I do take special care in making food for my parents who are elderly, my toddler nephews and nieces, anyone with a compromised immune system regardless. I like supporting local businesses/farms, knowing the people, and buying fresh eggs rather than from large factory farms. If I were like Nyleve, I would raise my own and get them fresh from the source. That would be my ideal but it's not going to happen so I'll settle for the next best thing for me. If it's your preference to buy factory farm eggs over local ones because you think they sterilize better, that's great. We all make our own choices.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            I buy eggs from my local farmer, and there is definitely dirt and straw all over it. Just wash it off. is what I do.

                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                              LOL, I'm wondering if those farmers at the farm B&B's we stay at just get up early and pop Costco eggs into the nests so we feel like we've made a big discovery. I'll have to look to see if they have stamps on them next time.

                                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                                              I routinely buy eggs from both sources. It makes no difference to me except if I'm having guests for breakfast/brunch and I want eggs with yolk that really stand up high. Then I make sure to get the ones that were laid yesterday and the only way to get that is from a farmstand that I know.

                                                                              Statistically, there is no difference in disease rates between small and large farm operations according to the USDA..
                                                                              The eggs from both are equally clean/dirty because it's the chicken that makes them dirty, not the farm.
                                                                              The large farms can afford bigger equipment to clean the eggs. Often, small farms clean them by hand.
                                                                              Mostly, I have far bigger things to worry about.

                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                I buy both, too, but prefer to support small businesses. I also buy frozen vegetables but prefer fresh. I make my choices based on what works for the season/location/etc.

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  A hen has one exit. Poop and eggs came out of the same hole. E. coli, salmonella, listeria...are not visible to the naked eye. This is the same for the chckens in my backyard and for the chickens across the country from me. And the same for chickens raised in a big barn and chickens raised in a lttle barn. Poop is poop. Local poop is not safer than out-of-state poop.

                                                                                  1. re: BetteAnne

                                                                                    A chicken that is exposed to thousands of chickens has a greater chance of disease than one exposed to few. It's the same reason teachers get sick more often than people exposed only to a few people. If I know that the farmer has more sanitary conditions because I've been there or talked to them, I trust them more.

                                                                                2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                  That's another pro for large scale producers. They test their flocks frequently and if a hen has Salmonella they destroy it and I believe (Don't quote me) destroy the whole flock in some cases helping to eliminate internalized Salmonella risk.

                                                                                  1. re: Bryn

                                                                                    i don't see that as a pro at all. destroying a flock of birds to eliminate a potential salmonella risk? i see that as animal cruelty , straight up.

                                                                                    1. re: chez cherie

                                                                                      I think that's only done in extreme cases. As for Animal Cruelty because they destroy a flock please see BSE and cow herds. I'm not PETA, I don't pretend that industrial farming is perfect, but I don't argue about it.

                                                                                      1. re: Bryn

                                                                                        There is no testing on egg farms. If you find salmonella, you have to report it.. And no farmer wants to do that. Great system to ensure a safe food supply huh?

                                                                                        1. re: BetteAnne

                                                                                          Maybe in the States. I'm in Canada. Bear in mind that we do have a safer egg supply than the states.

                                                                            3. re: Brandon Nelson

                                                                              Is there no dirt on ethical farms? No soil? No flies or rodents? Do the hens use the toilet, flush and wash their hands after wiping? Do the other animals? Do the ethical hens not peck in the dirt or grass?

                                                                              My backyard hens don't have such luxuries. I believe I'm still "ethically" raising them. But chickens are dirty birds.

                                                                              Lemon juice and vinegar are not acidic enough to kill most pathogens. They can slow the growth of them, but not kill them.

                                                                              1. re: BetteAnne

                                                                                You might as well add that chickens aren't the smartest critters in the barnyard. Should we really trust them to make their own dietary choices?
                                                                                I've seen them peck the undigested grain out of piles of dung. What else do they take in with the grain from the dung?
                                                                                That's not the idyllic image of hens foraging for bugs and seeds in the Great Outdoors that some folks seem to have.

                                                                            4. If you eat eggs with runny yolks - poached, sunny side up, or over easy - then you're probably at risk of salmonella poisoning. But then again, you're at risk of contracting salmonella if you eat lettuce, raw spinach, peanut butter, etc. The only question is how much risk.

                                                                              The first question is how many eggs are infected. Greygarious cited 1:20,000. I've also seen 1:10,000. Regardless, we're talking long odds. Lottery ticket odds.

                                                                              The second question is whether the salmonella will survive whatever you're doing to the egg. Eating a plain infected raw egg, you're putting it right into your digestive system. But as Brandon noted, if you're making a salad dressing or a sauce that contains an acid ingredient, the acid is going to tend to kill the bugs.

                                                                              I have to disagree with pattilondre, though. Although homemade mayo is generally safe, it's even safer if you let it sit at room temperature for a few hours to overnight before consuming and/or refrigerating it. It takes time for bacteria to die off in an acid environment, and refrigeration actually slows down this process.

                                                                              So, long and short - you have do your own risk analysis. For an otherwise healthy adult, a bout of salmonella means a few days of quality time near a bathroom; for the very old, the very young (including the unborn), and the immunocompromised, the consequences can be a lot worse. But of all the things that might make you sick, raw eggs are way down on the list. Your best bet for avoiding salmonella and all other food-borne diseases is to wash your hands religiously, avoid cross-contamination (especially from raw poultry), periodically disinfect the surfaces in your kitchen that come into contact with food, and generally keep things clean.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                The only scientific evidence I've seen regarding acidic ingredients used with raw eggs, is that the acid does NOT kill existing pathogens, but can keep them from multiplying -- like refrigeration does. Leaving your mayo out overnight is not a good idea.

                                                                                1. re: BetteAnne

                                                                                  I don't know what scientific evidence you've seen, but I'd be interested to see a citation to a single study that shows salmonella surviving in mayonnaise. Please provide any citations you have. Meanwhile, for the proposition that mayo actually kills the little buggers, here are a few articles:

                                                                                  Erickson, J. P., et al. (1991) Comparative Salmonella spp. and Listeria monocytogenes inactivation rates in four commercial mayonnaise products. J. Food Protect. 54 (12):913-916

                                                                                  Glass, K. A. et al. (1991) Fate of Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in commercial, reduced calorie mayonnaise. J. Food Protect. 54 (9): 691-695

                                                                                  Lock, J.L et al. (1995) The fate of Salmonella enteritidis PT4 in home-made mayonnaise prepared from artificially inoculated eggs. Food Microbiology 12:181-186.

                                                                                  Radford, S. A. and Board, R. G. (1993) Review: Fate of pathogens in home-made mayonnaise and related products. Food Microbiology 10: 269-278

                                                                                  Smittle, R. B. (1977) Microbiology of mayonnaise and salad dressing: A review. J. Food Protect. 40 (6): 415-422

                                                                                  The acid in mayonnaise kills germs. That's a fact. And it's also a fact that storage of mayonnaise at refrigeration temperatures protects Salmonella spp. from acidulants. That's why the experts recommend holding homemade mayonnaise at room temperature for 24 hours prior to refrigeration.

                                                                                  Of course, you're free to think that this is a bad idea. Once you've published an article supporting this thesis in a peer-reviewed journal, it will be more than just your unfounded opinion. Until then...

                                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                    At quick glance, the Lock study doesn't seem to be very supportive for you. I'll take a closer look after some sleep.

                                                                                    I don't see your name listed above.

                                                                              2. I eat uncooked eggs and barely cooked eggs all the time. Actually, when I make a vinaigrette, I almost always add an egg yolk tothe mustard and shallot mixture, I like the texture and richness it adds. Homemade mayo is such a treat, so I would say make the mayo, its deliciousness will elimate your raw egg fear!

                                                                                1. I can't remember not eating raw eggs. We grew up eating sukiyaki and dipped everything in a raw egg sauce. It was so creamy and good. When the egg scare first came out, I tried w/out the egg but it wasn't the same so I went back to it. I was the only family member who was at all concerned.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    I lived in Singapore for over a year. Chowser, like you, I was often served a raw egg in a little bowl at restaurants. Customarily, you break open the egg, drop it in the bowl, add chili oil hot sauce, soy sauce or fish sauce, and chives (of all things!), beat it all up and dip your meat, chicken, or fish into it. I never had a problem.

                                                                                    Every year for years, my mother made egg nog from raw eggs at Christmas time. No problem.

                                                                                    And I've been eating fried eggs sunny side up for, lo, these 58 years. No problem.

                                                                                    All the statistics I've seen on the number of salmonella infected eggs are in the tens orf thousands or better. I figure I'll probably die long before I get to that first salmonella-infected egg.

                                                                                    On the other hand, I darned near got killed in Singapore, stepping off the curb, watching for traffic coming from the wrong direction, since everyone there drives on the left and I had not yet adjusted to that fact. I'll save my worries for real dangers . . .

                                                                                  2. Most likely we do more dangerous things in our daily lives without giving it a second thought.


                                                                                    1. Here is a web that tells just about everything about judging, buying, and using eggs.
                                                                                      Scroll down to "Safe Egg Yolks". and read !


                                                                                      My family used to raise chickens and sell eggs. Have used raw eggs in various ways all of my life (I'm a senior citizen), and never even once been sickened by doing so. Now-a-days I buy my eggs from a small ethnic grocery store. The owner gets them from a local chicken farmer. You can be fairly safe if you patronize a store that has a rapid turn-over in eggs, and you know where they get their eggs from. The big chains have eggs that come from a storage facility...so I steer clear of those.