Is 2% Risk Worth Sunny-Side Up?

Here we go again. Another food recall due to contamination. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, modern farming methods are killing us. Literally. We’re now up to nearly a half-billion eggs being recalled because of salmonella contamination. Salmonella is a particularly strong form of food poisoning that can send you to the hospital. If your immune system isn’t fully up to snuff, it could kill you. That means that runny eggs should not be fed to elderly people or young children. The U.S. government estimates that one in 50 people will be exposed to contaminated eggs. That’s two-percent. That may not be an epidemic, but that’s still six million people in the United State alone.

The brands being recalled are: Lucerne, James Farms, Albertsons, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, Kemps and Pacific Coast. If these eggs are in your fridge, chuck ’em out. What a waste!

So, what should you do? Well, the salmonella organism will be killed if you heat your eggs, or any food for that matter, to 160 degrees F or higher. That means no runny yolks and possibly rubbery scrambled eggs.

Another solution is to buy pasteurized eggs. You can find them in most grocery stores, but be prepared to pay more.

Always examine your eggs carefully. Make sure the outside of the shells are clean. Salmonella can live on the outside of the eggs as well as inside. If there are any cracks or dents in the shell, throw it out. Also, make sure you use clean pans and utensils and that they are throughly washed in soap and hot water when you’re done. That means no cast iron. Besides a non-stick pan works better anyway.

Eat your eggs right away. Salmonella thrives at room temperature. If you like Sunny-Side-Up eggs, try over easy instead. It’s pretty close in taste and does a better job killing off the bacteria.

Of course, some egg lovers will say the risk is pretty low, and it is.  Also, other egg products, like egg substitutes and egg white products, are not affected because those are pasteurized.  In the end, you have to decide for yourself and take reasonable precautions.

Chef Eric Berlin, who’s made online videos about the fundamentals of cooking and food safety, says just because eggs are a little runny doesn’t mean they’re undercooked exactly. He’s still OK with eating eggs Benedict, for example. “It’s a personal judgment call,” he concedes, as is with many things in the world of food.

We will, undoubtedly, get through this food contamination scare, as we have with others. What I want to know is when will we realize that cheap food has other, higher prices to be paid.