The Risk of Salmonella InfectionAccording to the data provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), about 142,000 Salmonella-induced illnesses are reported each year, caused by the consumption of eggs.
Fans of the Rocky movie series will remember the scene in Rocky I, where Sylvester Stallone breaks three or four eggs in a glass and gulps them down, before leaving for his early-morning run through the streets of Philadelphia. Eggs have always been the staple diet for athletes.
One of the most-discussed topics on health forums worldwide is whether eating raw eggs is good or bad for health. Considering the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis infection, the answer is clear, eating unpasteurized raw eggs is definitely a bad idea.
In hindsight, the Rocky movie should have had a disclaimer, saying 'All eggs used in the movie were pasteurized.'. Now that the consumption of raw eggs without pasteurization or proper cooking has been declared to be detrimental to health, let us look at some supporting evidence.
Salmonella are a group of bacteria known to infect pork, beef, eggs, and other food products, making them one of the prime causes of food poisoning in USA. The infection, Salmonellosis, is characterized by symptoms like abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, and fatigue, that may last for a week. While most people recover without treatment, the effect of the infection in infants, pregnant women, and the elderly can be more serious. More severe cases of Salmonellosis are characterized by entry of the bacterium into the bloodstream. Treatment involves the administration of antibiotics. Ergo, eating unpasteurized, raw eggs is inherently risky.
The high level of cholesterol in egg yolk is another risk associated with eating raw eggs, when consumed in large quantities. There is no conclusive research on how much cholesterol, from the egg yolk will be assimilated by the body. For individuals with heart problems, moderate consumption is recommended.
In general, consuming large quantities of egg white may lead to biotin deficiency. However, this problem can be dealt with, by consuming the whole egg, instead of just the egg white, as the yolk is biotin-rich.
Here are some recommended safety measures to eliminate the threat of Salmonella infection through eggs:
- Always prefer buying pasteurized eggs, as they are free from the risk of bacterial infestation. These treated eggs are available with almost all grocers. There are many patented pasteurized processes that mostly use heat to destroy harmful bacteria from eggs, without affecting their nutrition value.
- Buy refrigerated eggs, as the risk of bacterial growth in them is substantially lower. Make sure that eggs are not cracked or leaking when purchasing.
- Always store eggs in refrigerated conditions and use them preferably within three weeks.
- All egg dishes should be cooked well; the yolk and white should be firm, and not runny.
- Avoid food products and recipes that contain uncooked or raw unpasteurized eggs
Here are some of the benefits of consuming eggs, be they pasteurized raw eggs or in cooked form.
- Eggs supply most of the essential amino acids required for proper functioning of the human body.
- They provide a bunch of vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, choline, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
- Egg white is the richest source of protein on earth. This makes it an ideal protein supplement. Eating them raw, for protein, is a common practice among body builders. Egg is one of the few natural products which contains Vitamin D.
- Choline, supplied by eggs, is recommended intake for pregnant, as well as nursing women, as it aids brain development of the fetus.