In recent months, SRxA’s Word on Health has noticed a flurry of Internet sites touting raw egg drinks or shakes as “primal and powerful,” with others suggesting uncooked eggs be blended with vanilla or avocado for a tasty, healthy snack. Such sites are rife with comments insisting that the connection between raw eggs and salmonella is a myth.
Suzy Weems, Ph.D., a national food expert and chair of Baylor University’s family and consumer sciences department, has this advice for health-seekers: “Under no circumstances eat a raw egg.”
While only a tiny percentage of eggs are contaminated, virtually every egg has had some contact with salmonella. Because the bacteria can lead to food poisoning and the fever, diarrhea and dehydration that accompany it “it’s best to be proactive,” cautions Weems.
Extolling the virtues of raw eggs is nothing new. Nutrition guru Bernarr Macfadden advocated them as far back as the 1890s while modern proponents claim that heating the egg changes its chemical shape and destroys many of its nutrients and proteins.
Although relatively few people are tempted to wolf down raw eggs, those who love eating raw cookie dough need to be aware that it too is risky because it contains uncooked eggs.
“There are a lot of old recipes floating around that call for raw eggs, but people need to realize if the recipe is based on one from when Grandma gathered her eggs, then Grandma gathered them locally. There wasn’t much of a time lag,” Weems said. “Now, eggs are much more likely to sit for a time before being used, and that gives salmonella the chance to grow.”
Risk of salmonella contamination lessens with eggs from cage-free, organically fed chickens, and salmonella generally is not life-threatening. Most at risk are children, senior citizens, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
So, the bottom line – eggs can still be incredible, just make sure they’re cooked.