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Eating raw eggs

This occurred to me while watching yet another food competition show. Often on Top Chef, Chopped, MasterChef etc. the judges chastise the chef/contestant for serving them an undercooked egg. I can't remember if it was Gordon Ramsey or one of the Chopped judges (probably both) who asked if the cook was trying to kill them by serving them raw/undercooked egg.

I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure it's ok to eat raw egg. I love a raw yolk in my tartare, a soft egg in my ramen. I'm pretty sure athletic types put a raw egg in some protein drinks. I also believe that raw egg whites are used in some cocktails for froth and there's a version of chocolate mousse that uses egg whites instead of cream.

So are these judges just freaking out for drama or is it really dangerous to eat raw egg?

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  1. Here's a link to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service sheet on eggs:

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/conn...

    Regardless, I like my yolks runny.

    1. From what I recall, there is the potential for bacteria, particularly salmonella, to be on eggshells. If you use pasteurized eggs, which kills any potential harmful bacteria on the eggshell, then no problem. If you can get the egg out of the shell without it touching the outer shell -- a feat much easier said than done in my experience -- then also no problem. Otherwise serving a raw/undercooked egg does run the risk of consuming some of that bacteria. From what I understand, the actual likelihood of the average healthy adult getting sick is pretty small.

        1. There have been some well-documented cases in the US of people getting sick from the salmonella bacteria on eggs from certain large Mid-West egg farms due to the unsanitary conditions in which the hens were kept.

          I still eat raw eggs on occasion, although I do take some minimal precautions. I only do this with eggs from smaller, local growers, and I don't do it often.

          1. <I may be wrong but I'm pretty sure it's ok to eat raw egg>

            Far from it, eating raw eggs can be dangerous. That being said, it isn't like I have eaten raw egg.

            <is it really dangerous to eat raw egg?>

            Given today's medicine and technology, you will unlikely to die from it, but you can get sick.

            1. Where I am in the world, the health authorities caution against "at risk" groups eating raw or lightly cooked eggs. They define the risk groups to be babies, toddlers, the elderly, pregnant women and people already unwell.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Harters

                I have a Canadian cookbook called "Kitchen for Kids" by Jennifer Low; it features three recipes (aimed at being consumed by children, obviously) with raw eggs. She prefaces each of them with the statement that this is not for those who are "squeamish about raw eggs," and nothing about food safety.

                From personal experience, many people outside of N. America (as well as some immigrants) store their eggs out of the refrigerator. My mother-in-law was quite dubious about eating any of the eggs I put in the frig when I was visiting her, as she was sure refrigeration would have spoiled them. Eggs were sold everywhere unrefrigerated, both at high end grocery stores and from street hawkers. I think one of the comments in the article below points out something important: most people around the world don't stockpile food in their (large) refrigerators as many North Americans do.

                http://www.thekitchn.com/is-refrigera...

              2. Where I am, raw or under cooked egg is far more common then a medium to fully cooked egg.

                A dish as simple as a raw egg beaten and poured over rice is a common breakfast.

                Tiramisu is a raw egg dessert

                Mayonnaise is raw egg

                I have no problem with raw egg.

                13 Replies
                  1. re: TeRReT

                    Commercial mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs and contains acid to suppress bacteria.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      yeah, I mean homemade mayo, should have specified

                    2. re: TeRReT

                      Yes, I had a raw egg over hot rice this morning. I live in Japan and this is a very common thing, as TeRRet writes. I like it and after over 30 years, have never had any trouble with it.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        < I live in Japan and this is a very common thing>

                        But that explains why Japanese are barbarians!

                        :P (just kidding)

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          "But that explains why Japanese are barbarians!"

                          Yes -- If your definition of barbarian includes people who know how to handle eggs properly and keep them clean so that one can eat raw eggs without getting sick.

                          1. re: Tripeler

                            A raw egg sounds infinitely safer to me than fugu!

                            ....Or natto for that matter.

                        2. re: Tripeler

                          I learned the raw egg over rice (with a little soy sauce and furikake) here on CH and it's been one of my fave breakfasts for quite a while now.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            YES! The rice should be quite hot so that the texture of the raw egg is thick and syrupy.

                            1. re: Tripeler

                              And beat the egg well, first time I had this dish I poorly mixed the egg and it was just a gloppy coagulated mess which I barely choked down, then my wife made me finish hers which was delicious

                          2. re: Tripeler

                            The absolute best raw egg rice I've ever had was at a little organic products restaurant in the market in Kyoto. They beat up the egg white, spooned the frothy mass over the rice, and dropped the yolk in the centre.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              Never seen it that fancy! Must have been good. Did you top it off with a good measure of Natto (fermented soy beans)?

                        3. I make eggnog every year about this time, using a dozen raw eggs and no one ever says no. Guess it could be the alcohol, but never a problem in almost 40 years.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: coll

                            Right. I've had _real_ traditional egg nog that was made in January and consumed in December, and never had a problem.
                            It was damned tasty, too.

                            1. re: The Professor

                              Eleven months later? Were you in prison? Did it ferment?

                              1. re: Veggo

                                It needs time to mellow, although when I've made it it was more like 6 weeks.

                                Traditional eggnog is made with eggs, cream and copious amounts of liquor. IIRC, my recipe - from an old Fanny Farmer cookbook - used a quart of brandy to a quart of heavy cream and a quart of milk, plus a dozen eggs, with some rum for added kick.

                            2. re: coll

                              Forgot about eggnog, it isn't available in stores here so I do make it at home.

                              1. re: TeRReT

                                I once bought a carton of eggnog that was SO bad I had to read the ingredients - there was NOTHING that had ever been inside of a chicken or a cow. Ain't nothing like the real thing.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Agreed. I had a cup of egg nog (with the raw eggs, and either whole milk or light cream) throughout the winter months as a kid...every single morning while my nana lived with us (a decade). Loved it.

                                  Funny to look back on...it was a study in raw egg contraindications. My senior citizen nana, who had a number of infirmities, made it for the little kid and herself. Woulda hit all the buttons if one of us were pregnant. ;-)

                              2. re: coll

                                I've not made it for some years but also have never bought it. If I want it, it's easy to make.

                              3. Like everything in life, eating raw egg has risk associated with it. I think its the public's misunderstanding of risk management which leads to drama.

                                1. Salmonella can be inside the chickens reproductive system and be IN the egg, not just ON a cracked shell. The chickens infected reproductive system can put the salmonella inside the egg during formation.
                                  .
                                  When I make mayonnaise, eggnog, etc, I use Eggbeaters egg substitute. According to its website, Eggbeaters is double sterilized and safe to consume raw. 1/4 cup equals one egg.

                                  1. I use to do the "Rocky" thing more than a few times when I was younger and lifting etc. I never had any ill affects, and look at me today!

                                    (I guess it's subjective if you consider me "ok" , I do believe the OP is talking physical problems and not mental! )

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                      Yes, but it is because you ate raw egg, now you are weighting over 200 lb. You could be a skinny tiny dude if you didn't eat that raw egg when you were 6 years old.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        See CK I knew there was a reason I liked you! I passed the 200lbs mark in grammar school! lol I'm over the 300lb mark at this point. We'll call it a smidgen over 300.

                                      2. re: jrvedivici

                                        Yeah, I'm just wondering why the judges on these shows make such a big deal about it.

                                        As a rule, I use generic supermarket eggs for baking and "fancy" eggs for poaching, frying, coddling etc. If I'm going to enjoy a luxurious silky yolk, I want to try and do it relatively safely. And a duck egg yolk if I want to be particularly decadent.

                                        1. re: chefhound

                                          Duck egg yolk, never experienced a duck egg at all. Can you explain the decadence of it?

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            Duck eggs are generally larger than chicken eggs and they have a harder shell.

                                            The proportion of white to yolk is different too. There is more yolk than white; the whites cook up firmer than a chicken egg and the yolk is thicker and richer, more luscious than a chicken egg by far.

                                            1. re: chefhound

                                              Interesting and thank you for the feed back. How about the overall flavor, still the same as a chicken egg or is there any distinction about the taste. Never considered trying a duck egg.

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                They are almost too rich. Very intense.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Really? I'm going to have to try this sometime, thanks for the info.

                                                  One last question, we all know you crack a chicken egg. What do you do to a duck egg? Quack it?

                                      3. I tried making scrambled eggs with some pasteurized eggs I bought, and they came out like crap. I don't know what the process does to the eggs, but they would not form fluffy curds or mix up well. They turned out like a rubbery separated mess.

                                        I think they are just being melodramatic. Just like Scott Conant throwing a fit over raw onions...

                                        A video I was watching one time mentioned that you have a better odds of winning the lottery than getting sick from a raw egg.

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: Atomic76

                                            So uh are you implying that scrambled eggs from pasteurized eggs just universally suck? I'm just wondering. I eat unpasteurized eggs myself but have never just written off pasteurized eggs.

                                          2. A few years ago, NJ legislators decided to become the "Egg Police" and put something together to BAN anything but totally cooked eggs!?! Imagine the UPROAR when people stopped at a favorite diner and were told they couldn't have their Sunny Side Up or Over-Easy eggs... oh, the humanity.

                                            Not an expert, but thinking odda are in YOUR favor of NO ill effects... unless you're buying from a bad source or not properly storing??

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: kseiverd

                                              Apparently 1 egg in 30,000 have salmonella.
                                              So, if you eat 2 eggs per day EVERY day, its possible to have one of those eggs contain salmonella within 41 years...

                                              Add a few more statistics,
                                              Of 69 BILLION eggs produced annually, an estimated 2.3 million may be infected with salmonella.
                                              These 2.3 million are estimated to cause 662,000 human illnesses, or about a 29% illness rate.

                                              Soooo, if you are lucky enough to get that 1 in 30,000, chances are only about 1 in 3 that it'll make you sick.

                                              Even then, if'n you get sick, 94% of the time, you'll recover with no medical care.

                                              Kinda like airline safety. Sure planes crash, but what're the odds?
                                              When the Food Network agreed to fly him from jolly Olde England, what'd Gordo say, "Are you trying to kill me?"

                                              Now I'm not saying the risk is zero (yeah, people die in plane crashes and people get sick and die from eating eggs).
                                              But perhaps we should have a better handle on risk and risk tolerance.

                                              1. re: porker

                                                Ok but what if a hen and a half, lays an egg and a half, every day and a half, what's the chances then?

                                                1. re: porker

                                                  The infected eggs won't be uniformly distribute over all eggs produced, however. It matters where you get your eggs.

                                              2. I eat raw unpasteurized eggs all the time and I'm still breathing but it's a personal risk decision. There is a risk of salmonella but it's quite small however it depends on who you are. Would I give a raw unpasteurized egg to someone who is immunocompromised? Probably not.

                                                1. Despite what USDA says, chicken eggshells are not particularly porous and bacteria do not usually pass through it and enter the egg. Duck eggs are another story - avoid raw duck eggs.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: kagemusha49

                                                    Why aren't duck eggs safe to be eaten raw?

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Because duck eggshells are too porous.

                                                      1. re: kagemusha49

                                                        Oh. I'm not concerned about that honestly. I thought there was something inherent to duck eggs that was harmful.

                                                    2. re: kagemusha49

                                                      Bacteria doesn't have to pass through the shell. It can exist in the birds reproductive system and is deposited in the egg during formation.

                                                      1. re: Antilope

                                                        Really?

                                                        The thought of eating hard-cooked duck eggs is not appealing. The best part of eating a duck egg is the wonderful yolk. If you shouldn't eat them raw, is there any point in eating them at all?

                                                        1. re: chefhound

                                                          I didn't say to eat them or not eat them, I was just pointing out how bacteria can get inside an intact egg.

                                                          1. re: chefhound

                                                            Exactly how I feel about quail eggs.

                                                      2. I suspect the drama factor is behind their reactions. For healthy people, salmonellosis is seldom lethal, just unpleasant. Do not eat raw/undercooked eggs if you are an infant, pregnant, elderly or immuno-compromised (from AIDS, for example) just to be safe. Don't use eggs with visible dirt on the outside or if their shells are cracked.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: elegraph

                                                          I bow in front of you and your wisdom:)

                                                        2. I was raised to cook my eggs till dry and crumbly because of salmonella. I thought I hated eggs when I was a kid, until I discovered the joys of super-runny eggs.

                                                          I've had salmonellosis (not from eggs though) and while it was a thoroughly unpleasant experience, it hasn't made me change my eating habits, especially since I probably got it from tomatoes or peppers.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jmarya

                                                            The only true salmenellosis that I had was from US peanut butter that was recalled that didn't make it off the shelves in Rio. Yeah, I was yucky sick and self-medicated but I'll never stop eating local food (and drinking the water in most cases). For me, it's what it's all about.

                                                          2. My understanding is that there are two ways to get sick from eating raw eggs.

                                                            If the surface of the egg is contaminated, and the pathogens get into the food you are eating, and you don't cook the egg enough, or if the pathogen is inside the egg, due to the chicken that hatched it being ill.

                                                            In the second case, it has to be cooked hard to be safe, and this case is one that has become more common over time. So raw eggs are statistically less safe than they were a generation ago.

                                                            I have trouble picturing a professional chef getting pissy because his poached egg wasn't had cooked, though.....

                                                            I eat raw or rare eggs and haven't had a problem. I also eat raw oysters, even though I *have* gotten food poisoning from them in the past, because they are so good. I don't have a comprised immune system, though. I wouldn't serve a dish with raw eggs in it without letting people know, though, so they could decide themselves.

                                                            1. I had a dinner party last weekend, and two of the dishes involved raw eggs (Caesar salad and a basil mayonnaise for beef). I made the decision to no longer strictly avoid eating raw eggs. Like so many things, the advice to not eat them just seems like such overkill. Is there a small risk? Sure, but I personally no longer think it warrants being so overly cautious. I guess I can start eating raw cookie dough now too. Mmmm.

                                                              1. It's making mousse with raw eggs that worries me. I never thought twice about it, but then my healthy, active 7 year old grandson got salmonella (that's what the doctors called it) from a turtle in a petting zoo and then not washing his hands, and he was very, very, very sick and hospitalized for a week.

                                                                Since then, when I need to make mousse, I buy eggs from a local farm co-op, where the chickens are carefully tended. It's annoying to make the special trip, but I've become too spooked.
                                                                looked into buying pasteurized eggs, but everything I've read says that the whites don't beat up very well.

                                                                Not having mousse is out of the question.