Eggs are one of the most popular foods around the world, and their use is diverse, as are the ways of their preparation. Eggs can be cooked, baked, fried, stuffed, and they are also a frequent ingredient in many baked goods.
However, some recipes, such as the tiramisu recipe, require raw eggs. Also, some people like to eat raw eggs due to their rich nutritional profile.
Is it safe to eat raw eggs or undercooked eggs? Is one raw egg more nutritious than a boiled or fried egg?
The FDA food safety health professionals do not recommend consuming raw eggs. The most significant risk that raw eggs carry is salmonella infection, a dangerous bacteria that can cause several health issues.
However, if you decide to eat or use raw eggs in recipes, try to follow some rules to minimize the risk of infection.
We’ll discuss those rules below, so keep reading to find out all you ever wanted to know about raw eggs consumption.
Raw eggs nutrition
It’s not a secret that eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there, related to many health benefits.
They contain an impressive amount of healthy protein (high-quality protein is mainly found in egg whites), healthy fats and fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and various other nutrients.
One sizeable raw egg (50 grams) has only 72 calories and contains the following nutrients:
|Total fat – 4.8 g||7%|
|Cholesterol – 186 mg||62%|
|Sodium – 71 mg||2%|
|Potassium – 69 mg||1%|
|Total carbohydrate – 0.4 grams||0%|
|Protein – 6 grams||12%|
There is not a big difference between eating raw and cooked eggs:
|Type of eggs||Carbs (g)||Protein (g)||Fat (g)||Cholesterol (mg)|
As you can see, the nutritional composition of eggs does not change in any significant way during processing, when it comes to the basic components.
In all three forms, eggs do have a high cholesterol content. Still, if the diet is balanced and the egg is almost the only source of cholesterol daily, it is acceptable to consume it regularly as part of the healthy diet, if not every day.
The best and healthiest option of the three offered is certainly boiled, hard-boiled egg, which does not require the addition of fat for processing; on the other hand, good and quality dishes allow efficient frying of eggs without oil.
How safe are raw eggs?
Raw eggs got on their popularity with a great blockbuster Rocky, in the 1970s, when bodybuilders and athletes started to consume them. Still, among many people, there is justified concern about salmonella poisoning.
You can eat raw eggs, but there are quite a few reasons to do so, as we saw above.
If you decide to consume raw eggs, there are a few precautionary measures that you should take.
Also, eating raw eggs could get you into the salmonella risk. This risk is low, but there are chances that bacteria salmonella enteritidis is present on the eggshell exterior.
That is why you should never eat an egg with a cracked or damaged shell.
What can happen if you eat raw or undercooked eggs?
Food safety organization does not recommend consuming raw and undercooked eggs due to possible salmonella contamination, leading to food poisoning.
To avoid salmonella risk, you should consume a raw egg as soon as possible once you crack it. If there are salmonella bacteria on the eggshell, it could quickly end up in touch with the egg white once you crack an egg.
Risk increases if a piece of broken eggshell falls into the bowl with raw eggs or if you’re trying to separate egg whites and egg yolks by passing the yolk back and forth between two pieces of eggshell.
Salmonella needs time to multiply, so you’ll minimize the risk of salmonella food poisoning if you devour raw eggs, assuming that you have refrigerated eggs.
A small number of salmonella bacteria in the fresh raw egg will be killed in your stomach after consumption, but things differ if raw eggs sit at room temperature for a few hours. In that case, harmful bacteria will multiply to the fullest and lead to salmonella infection.
So, if you still want to consume raw eggs, the best idea is to do it immediately after cracking. Still, the best recommendation is to keep eggs in the fridge, cook them before consumption, and avoid eating raw eggs.
Can you tell if an egg has salmonella?
There is no way or visible sign that could indicate that your eggs are contaminated with salmonella since this bacteria isn’t visible to the naked eye.
To stay on the safe side, throw away all cracked or dirty eggs and do not eat raw or undercooked eggs, as delicious as they might be. Buy only pasteurized eggs and eat only cooked eggs.
Are raw eggs safe for everyone?
Salmonella food poisoning, one of the most significant risks of eating contaminated food, can be especially dangerous for vulnerable people with a compromised immune system – children, pregnant women, and the elderly. They should avoid every food containing eggs that haven’t gone through heat treatment.
These groups with compromised immune systems should be eating eggs since eggs are essential for brain function and overall health. Cooking eggs will kill bacteria because they cannot survive heat treatment.
Safe handling instructions for eggs
To avoid health concerns caused by salmonella infection, follow USDA rules of safe handling instructions:
- Keep eggs refrigerated at 40°F (4°C)
- Buy eggs from the refrigerator! Unrefrigerated eggs are not safe to eat.
- Buy only pasteurized eggs and pasteurized egg products.
- Ensure that foods containing raw or lightly heat-treated eggs (hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, and tiramisu) are made only with pasteurized eggs.
- Cook eggs until egg whites and yolks are substantial, and cook carefully all the foods that contain eggs.
- Never leave boiled eggs or any other dish that includes eggs at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve been in contact with raw eggs. Also, wash all the surfaces and kitchen appliances with soap and warm water.
- Never taste any raw dough or batter that contains raw eggs, raw egg whites, or egg yolks.
How to clean eggs to prevent salmonella?
Contrary to popular beliefs, there are bigger chances of contaminating eggs with salmonella if you wash them than leaving the bloom untouched.
Still, many people are into washing eggs, so it’s good to know how to wash them properly:
Wash shell eggs with warm water at least 90 degrees F, rinse them under running water, and dry with a cloth.
Never use any soap or a detergent to wash eggs.
When a bloom is removed from the eggshell, detergents could leak into the inside of the egg through the eggshell pores. That would lead to egg contamination.
Never wash eggs with cold water – cold water creates a vacuum that will pull inside all the impurities.
Also, do not soak eggs in the water – once the dirt comes from the eggshell, it will dissolve in the water and get into the inside of the egg through eggshell pores.