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Monday, August 23, 2010

The Salmonella Egg Recall
I've been reading with interest about the recall of approximately a half a billion eggs (so far) because they're contaminated with salmonella.  I was shocked to learn that the FDA can't force a company to take its product off the market if it's known to be infected.  Yikes!  It can, however, require that the company divert its shell eggs to a pastueization process.  That makes me feel better.  How about you?

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause disease in humans, animals and birds.  So far, this current outbreak has sickened at least 1300 people.  Every year over 142,000 people are affected with salmonella and 30 die.  If tofu caused similar illness and death you can bet there would be a huge push to get it off store shelves.  Not so with eggs it seems. 

Salmonella is present in the fecal matter of humans and animals and can be passed to either through food that comes in contact with the fecal matter during harvesting or processing.  If you are unlucky enough to come down with a case of a salmonella infection you would experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramping.  In those with suppressed immune systems, infants, small children and the elderly, salmonella can become very serious and lead to complications.

Specific to eggs, their shells may be contaminated by feces, or the interior of the egg may be contaminated if it touches the shell or if the hen that laid the egg had infected ovaries.

I find it interesting that most of the suggestions I read about to help prevent salmonella infection involve killing the bacteria through heat.  Of course you always want to wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food and you want to throughly wash produce, but I have never come across the most obvious suggestion for preventing salmonella infection - not eating the eggs that are one of the most common sources of infection.

Eggs are not an essential food for a healthy diet.  They're not necessary for baking, etc., as there are plenty of safer replacement for eggs.

here for info on how to substitute for eggs in cooking.

2:29 pm est

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Christine Scalfo

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