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Salmonella & Eggs

Can you tell which eggs have Salmonella by looking at them?

No. You can't tell since the bacteria enter through the ovaries and are inside the eggs. Egg color, size, shape, texture, taste or farm source have no bearing on whether the egg has Salmonella inside.

How often does an egg contain Salmonella?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 10,000 eggs contain Salmonella. If you consider most egg dishes are made with at least 2 eggs, that's 1 in 5,000 egg dishes that potentially contain Salmonella. Of course, this is a national average. As demonstrated by the 2010 egg recall, the risk could be higher in eggs that come from flocks and farms that are contaminated with Salmonella.

Who is at risk for foodborne illness caused by Salmonella?

Egg safety is a key concern nationwide. Everyone is at risk for egg-related Salmonellosis, but older adults, young children, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems are at increased risk for serious illness. In these people, even a relatively limited exposure to Salmonella bacteria can cause severe illness or even death.

How Does Salmonella Get into Eggs?

Wonder how Salmonella enters the egg supply? Experts say that chickens carry the bacteria in their own bodies, and pass Salmonella along to the yolk and white while the egg is forming in the ovaries. Chickens can also pass bacteria to the eggshell—and through the shell pores into the inner egg—when the egg is laid. Chickens can harbor Salmonella without being sick themselves.

Eggs involved in Salmonellosis are almost always Grade A commercial eggs. Contrary to popular beliefs, cracked eggs are not generally responsible for the Salmonella problem. An intact shell by no means guarantees safe eggs. Likewise, cage free eggs, free-range eggs, organic eggs, or brown eggs are in no way exempt from the Salmonella risk.

Any part of the egg can harbor bacteria, and both whites and yolks have been implicated in foodborne illness. However, the yolk is the most common source, according to the USDA. The most common element in foodborne illness: Eggs were served raw or undercooked. Per USDA regulations, eggs are washed and egg processing plants undergo washing and sanitization. However, these practices do not eliminate Salmonella contained within the egg.

See for yourself how Salmonella gets into eggs!

Check out The Virtual Chicken show.

Egg Safety Advice

To protect yourself from the risks of eggs, experts recommend enjoying pasteurized eggs in all your egg recipes. That's the best egg safety advice you can get!

Read more about Salmonella.