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How Does Salmonella Bacteria Get Into Eggs

A new study has come into light, which states that fresh eggs, even those with clean, uncracked shells, may contain Salmonella bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 79,000 cases of food-borne illnesses and 30 deaths were reported to be caused by eating eggs which are contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. This might have come as a shock to you, isn't it?

What Is Salmonella Bacteria?

Salmonella is the name of a group of bacteria, which is a common cause of food poisoning. People who get infected with the salmonella bacteria develop diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, fever and vomiting 12 to 72 hours after infection.

The symptoms of the infection usually last 4 to 7 days and most people get better without any treatment. But, sometimes, the infection becomes so worse that you need to be hospitalized. It's because the salmonella infection may spread from the intestine to the blood stream and other body organs, which can cause death.

People who are at a greater risk for severe illness include children, pregnant women, older adults and those who have a weak immune system.

How Does Salmonella Bacteria Get Into Eggs?

There are chances that the bacteria can be inside an uncracked, whole egg. How? Salmonella contamination often happens inside the chicken itself that's due to the fact that salmonella bacteria can colonize the ovaries of the chicken and get inserted into the egg during egg formation, which means that the eggs that appear normal to you could have salmonella bacteria lurking inside.

Bacteria contamination could also occur after the chicken lays the eggs. This happens because chickens can carry the bacteria in their intestines and shed the bacteria in their poop, which could get on the egg shells during nesting.

It's estimated that about 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 10,000 eggs are contaminated with the salmonella bacteria.

Who Is At A Risk Of Illness?

Foods which contain raw eggs should be avoided which include healthy protein milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, home-made mayonnaise sauce, ice cream or eggnog. In these, the egg-based ingredients are not cooked. Children, adults and pregnant women might be at a higher risk of illnesses.

How To Store Shell Eggs?

Store your eggs in the refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or below. Or you can either place the eggs in their carton and put it inside the refrigerator. Do not wash the eggs because you are removing the protective mineral oil coating and increasing the potential for the bacteria to enter the eggs.

Use the eggs within 4 to 5 weeks from the day they are in the refrigerator. In this way, the eggs will be safe to use.

How To Handle Eggs Properly To Prevent Salmonella?

It's much safer to eat the eggs that are cooked well. You may like eggs sunny side up, but it's better that you boil them properly and eat. Today, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain salmonella bacteria. So, to be safe, eggs should be properly handled, refrigerated and cooked.

Also, consider buying and using pasteurized eggs, which are widely available. Discard cracked or dirty eggs as soon as you notice them.

How Do You Safely Cook Eggs?

Boiled eggs should be safe for everyone to eat. The American Egg Board recommends scrambling, poaching or frying eggs until the yolk and the white are firm.

  • These are the cooking tips to kill the salmonella bacteria:
  • Fried eggs should be cooked for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, and 4 minutes in a covered pan.
  • Scrambled eggs should be cooked until firm.
  • Soft-cooked eggs should be cooked for 7 minutes in the shell in boiling water.
  • Poached eggs should be cooked for 5 minutes in boiling water.
  • Casseroles and other egg dishes should be cooked at 160 degree F.

When To See A Doctor?

If by any chance you get an infection from salmonella bacteria, you should contact the doctor immediately, if you have these following symptoms.

1. High fever at 101.5 degree F.

2. Diarrhoea for more than 3 days.

3. Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.

4. Bloody stools.

5. Signs of dehydration such as less urine, dizziness when standing up, and dry mouth and throat.

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Story first published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 15:30 [IST]
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