Friday, May 13, 2011

Raw Eggs

When my siblings and I were little, my mother would never let us eat batter with raw eggs in it because of the risk of salmonella poisoning. Now that I'm older and can cook by myself, I often sample my raw batter to make sure it is good before I pop it in the oven. (My mother still scolds me when she catches me ;) Yet with all the people out there that eat cookie batter, I never hear of very many salmonella cases from raw eggs. So I did a little research.

Salmonella is a bacteria that is caused by fecal to oral contamination. It can be found on raw meat, raw eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, and on reptiles (cdphe).

According to, one in 20,000 eggs are infected with salmonella and around 400 people die from salmonella poisoning every year in the U.S. Some other sources said 600. (*Note: not all the salmonella deaths were caused by eating raw eggs. Salmonella can be contracted in a variety of ways) People with weak immune systems such as the elderly, and children under 5 are especially susceptible to Salmonella (ehow).

However, I also found some other interesting facts regarding Salmonella and raw eggs. Apparently, eggs contain natural antibiotic proteins, two of which are ovotransferrin and lysozyme. These proteins deplete the amount of iron, which is essential for bacterial growth, and destroy the cell walls of some bacteria. This defense is important because bacteria can penetrate through cracks and fissures in the eggshell (international).

According to the FDA and the CDC, raw eggs and unpasteurized dairy products are to be avoided like the plague. Yet I have talked with people who have grown up eating things with raw eggs in them and drinking unpasteurized dairy products. With the mind-boggling amount of conflicting research out there, it is hard to know what is best. However, I think that as long as the environment is kept clean (e.g. clean nesting boxes for the hens, proper sterilization methods for dairy tools and containers) natural is healthier. Besides, I've been eating batter with raw eggs in it for years and I haven't died yet. ;) What about you? Do you eat raw batter or is that a strict no no?



Elisa Mary Abele said...

I remember when we were little I came over and we made cookies. I was ALL FOR scarfing down some cookie batter, and you thought I was so strange! lol My family has never been to scared of salmonella, but then again we've got pretty strong immune systems. Very interesting info, Catherine! :)

Caitlin said...

My mom always let us eat cookie dough (she loves it just as much as we do ;-).
Haha, I remember that, Elisa! We were making cookies for Keepers or something and you took this HUGE glob of dough. Catherine was shocked...oh the memories. ;-)

Catherine said...

Lol. I do remember that, Elisa. However, if you come to my house to make cookies again, I promise not to be shocked if you eat some of the dough. ;)

Morgan-Britney said...

I licked the bowl as a girl,ate the batter and never thought a bit about it. Never got sick,but that isn't to say you can't. I think its a choice you make for yourself, or as a child, your parents make it for you.:)

Hannah said...

Haha, I remember friends being annoyed with me for not letting them eat the dough when we baked together. They'd pinch off pieces and stuff them in their mouths when they thought my back was turned (or right in front of my face...). Lol! Ah, the good ol' days...
Anyway, after talking to you the other day, Catherine, I looked it up and they actually do pasteurize eggs! Not all the time, though. Pasteurized eggs are apparently exempt from all the health warnings/regulations, and I guess are just like milk or cheese. They also passed some regulations a few years ago requiring more careful inspection/safe storage for eggs, which is supposed to have lowered infections by something like 60%. But still... a million illnesses (albeit of varying severity) a year in the US (according to that article), multiplied by each year of your life -- you're more likely to get it than you'd think, though dieing from it is pretty unlikely. I guess it depends on how much you like raw dough and batter!

Catherine said...

That seems so funny to me that they pasteurize eggs! I can't understand why the eggs don't get a little cooked by the raised temperatures. I guess eating raw eggs also depends on whether or not you have a strong immune system to fight off infections. :)