Eggs are nutritious and a good source of protein. Is it safe to eat raw eggs?
More people are aware of the dangers of food borne illness and are taking precautions to protect the health of their family. Although the importance of thoroughly cooking meat to kill bacteria that could cause food poisoning is emphasized, less attention is given to the common breakfast food, the egg. While most people cook their eggs before eating them, some body builders and other fitness buffs enjoy adding raw eggs to their fitness drinks for added protein. Is this a safe practice? Is it dangerous to eat raw eggs?
A great deal of controversy surrounds the issue of whether it’s safe to eat raw eggs. Some experts emphasize that the risk of getting a food borne illness from raw eggs is very small. The main concern is that raw eggs could contain a bacteria known as Salmonella enteritidis which is known to cause food poisoning. Statistics show that only about one in thirty thousand eggs contain this bacteria, but there’s no way to tell by looking at it whether you have a “bad egg”. Some people don’t believe that even this small risk is worth jeopardizing their health for and choose to eat only cooked eggs.
Although Salmonella enteritidis is usually found in the egg yolk, even the white portion of the egg may not be immune from contamination. The only way to avoid a health threat is avoid eating raw eggs, and instead, cook them to at least 160 degrees Farenheit, which is sufficient to kill bacteria that can cause food borne illness.
Certain populations may be more susceptible to the effects of raw egg contamination. People who have weakened immune systems, children, the elderly, and pregnant women run a higher risk than the general population of succumbing to food borne illness when they eat raw eggs. These populations should be particularly cognizant of cooking eggs until they’re completely done.
One way to eliminate the risk of food borne illness is to use products such as Egg Beaters which have been pasteurized. This kills any bacteria that could lead to food borne illness, plus you can benefit from the lower calorie and fat content. Liquid Egg Beaters can be added to shakes and other drinks to increase the protein content without cooking them. This is a nice substitute if you feel the need to eat raw eggs.
The bottom line? The risk is small when you eat raw eggs, although the more often you eat them, the greater your risk of developing a case of food poisoning which could be life threatening. Overall, it’s probably best from a health standpoint to cook your eggs or use Egg Beaters.