By Lisa Gosselin, August 23, 2010 - 5:37pm
This morning a friend of mine called in a panic, asking: “Should I throw out all my eggs? Will I get sick from the Eggs Benedict I had for brunch yesterday? Should I switch to cereal?”
I love eggs—they are low in calories, a great source of protein and, contrary to popular belief, don’t necessarily raise your bad cholesterol. But I can’t blame my friend: if you saw the news this morning that the massive egg recall, which already includes more than 550 million eggs in 14 states, is expanding, you may be freaking out too.
Already, more than 1,300 people have been sickened by an outbreak of salmonellosis associated with eggs from two mass producers in Iowa. The outbreaks began last May when the Centers for Disease Control began noticing reports of Salmonella enteritidis-related illnesses (characterized by abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever, which can be fatal to those with weakened immune systems) were four times higher than normal.
Related Link: How to tell which eggs have been recalled
And I was concerned as I saw FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announce on the Today show this morning that even more eggs may be recalled.
But before you stop eating eggs, I told my friend, there are 5 things you should know about food safety and how to make sure you won’t get sick from eggs or other recalled products.
1. Know where your eggs are from.
Check your eggs for recalls. As long as your eggs are not associated with these two farms—Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms—(see the above link for a full list of contaminated eggs, brands and stores where they appear) they should be fine. I try to buy only local eggs and often organic. This doesn’t guarantee that they are safer but organic standards make it less likely that hens have been fed contaminated feed and buying local makes it easier to trace eggs back to a farm that may have a contamination problem.
Related Link: A Buyer's Guide to the Best and Healthiest Eggs
2. Cooking eggs kills Salmonella.
If you cook an egg thoroughly (no runny yolks) to 160 degrees F or higher, or until both the white and the yolk are firm, it should be safe to eat. This means hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and eggs in baked goods should not pose a threat. Pasteurization will also kill bacteria and most products that use raw eggs (such as mayonnaise, raw cookie dough, ice cream, etc.) use pasteurized eggs. If you are making these things at home, though, make sure your eggs are safe.
Related Link: 15 Deliciously Easy Recipes for Hard Boiled Eggs
3. See how you score on the EatingWell Food Safety IQ Quiz.
Pop quiz: How cold is your refrigerator? Keeping foods at below 40 degrees F greatly reduces the growth of bacteria. Test your food-safety IQ with EatingWell's Food Safety Quiz.
4. Make breakfast at home.
Cooking at home doesn’t guarantee you won’t ever get a foodborne illness, but if you know the proper food-safety measures you are less likely to get sick from the five most common foodborne illnesses. Honestly, my solution is that I make muffins ahead of time or I cook up one of these 14 great grab-and-go breakfast recipes. They are all high in fiber, healthy and they save me time and money compared with stopping at a deli for a greasy egg sandwich.
5. Check your kitchen for other recalled foods.
Also, it’s a good idea to regularly check the FDA website (listed below) to find out what other products have been recalled. For instance, in the hullabaloo over eggs you may have missed the fact that in the past few days there have also been major recalls of pistachio nuts, alfalfa sprouts and mamey fruit pulp, all related to Salmonella contamination.
What do you think the government should do to safeguard our food? Tell us what you think below.