If you are on a healthy balanced diet then you almost certainly eat eggs. They are a very good way to get protein into your body and have vitamins and other nutrients too. Eggs contain protein, vitamins D, A, B2 and iodine. Eggs also contain cholesterol too, but recent research indicates that the amount of saturated fat in your diet is a far bigger factor than the number of eggs you eat, obviously within reason. High cholesterol levels increases our risk of heart disease and stroke. If your doctor has identified high cholesterol levels then he will probably be looking at you reducing your saturated fat intake if your diet is reasonably balanced in other ways. If your diet is suitably varied you will not be eating too many eggs but remember that egg products are in many foods.
Reconstituted egg can be found in ice cream, mayonnaise, salad dressings, icing, mousse and hollandaise and Béarnaise sauces. Eggs are also present in things like cakes, batter and pastries too.
Eggs and health issues
The government has identified risks associated with eggs and has given some advice and recommendations concerning their storage, handling and preparation. Because of the probability that eggs will have salmonella bacteria present we need to take some precautions if we are to avoid food poisoning. Certain ‘at risk’ groups should not eat uncooked or lightly cooked eggs. Pregnant women, the elderly, infants and people who are already ill should only eat eggs which have been well cooked. That is the yolk and white are both solid. Salmonella bacteria can lead to a severe form of food poisoning.
To further reduce the risk of food poisoning, handling and storage procedures must be adhered to. The way you store eggs can help contain the bacteria from the eggs. Always store your eggs in the fridge. A cool dry place is ideal. Keep the eggs apart from other foodstuffs, the fridge’s egg tray is perfect. If you have any leftover dishes containing eggs then return them to the fridge and keep for two days at the most. It’s best to eat egg dishes as soon as they have been made. By following egg storage procedures you can avoid the bacteria from the eggs and eggshells spreading.
The bacteria related to eggs can be found on both the inside and outside of the eggs. This can lead to the bacteria spreading easily between worktops, bowls, utensils and hands. To avoid the bacteria spreading some actions can be taken, such as washing your hands after working with eggs, keeping the eggs separate from other foods, wash everywhere the eggs have touched during preparation using hot soapy water and avoid splashing egg onto other foods. If you find a cracked egg just throw it away, bacteria or something else may have got inside.After following all the advice it should be realised that the chance of getting food poisoning is minimal. If you are not in a vulnerable group and eat a soft-boiled egg with a runny yolk then it’s highly unlikely that you will experience any health problems. But if you want to remove that risk totally then cook your eggs thoroughly, until the white and yolk are solid.
Lightly Cooked Eggs
There is a method to remove the salmonella bacteria from eggs, it is called pasteurisation. If you like raw or lightly done eggs then you should consider pasteurised eggs. It is a heating process where the eggs are subject to high temperatures for a short time, the result is bacteria free eggs. It is the same process that is used to remove harmful bacteria from milk. In the UK it is difficult to find unpasteurised milk, it is the opposite with eggs, meaning that very few pasteurised eggs in their shells are on sale, but some supermarkets do stock them. You will have to shop around perhaps.
The much more common forms of pasteurised eggs are dried, frozen or liquid. These are the types of eggs to use if you are making food which won’t be cooked enough to kill the bacteria. Sauces, home made ice creams or salad dressing fall into this category.
Foods containing raw eggs
Foods that are made with raw eggs should be made with pasteurised eggs to ensure that no bacteria can be present to cause food poisoning. Common foods made with raw eggs are; homemade mayonnaise, salad dressings, ready made icing, mousse or tiramisu.
The large food manufacturing brands tend to use pasteurised eggs as a matter of course in all of their products but before use check the label.
Eating your eggs
Eat your eggs before the "best before" date. If your eggs are unpasteurised then cook the eggs until both the white and yolk are solid, this will ensure that all bacteria is killed.
If you are in an ‘at risk’ group then do not eat raw or lightly cooked eggs.