Research released today by the Food Safety Information Council for Australian Food Safety Week shows that 36 per cent of Australians are taking a risk by eating raw egg dishes with 10 per cent eating raw egg dishes at least once a month.
Not only is this completely gag-worthy, but the consumption of raw egg dishes has been linked to increased numbers of salmonella outbreaks.
The greatest consumers of raw eggs are the 18 to 34 age group – where 46 per cent have eaten raw eggs.
Rachelle Williams, Council Chair, said that eggs are a simple, cost effective and nutritious part of our diet but can be contaminated by salmonella when they are laid.
Uncooked egg dishes such as hollandaise; fresh mayonnaise, and aioli; drinks containing raw egg such as egg nog and health shakes with added raw egg, and steak tartare need to be handled safely.
You can follow these six tips to minimise your risk of food poisoning from eating eggs:
1. Never serve raw egg dishes to small children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems as they can become very sick if they get food poisoning instead serve them cooked egg dishes or boiled eggs where the yolk has started to set.
2. Don’t use any visibly cracked eggs as the salmonella on the shell could get inside, either discard or cook thoroughly in something like a cake.
3. If you aren’t going to cook the egg dish don’t use the shell to separate egg yolks and whites, invest in an egg separator.
4. If you accidentally drop pieces of shell into your egg mixture while preparing food, it could contaminate the mixture and it will need thorough cooking. Remove the shell pieces with a clean spoon or fork.
5. Prepare raw egg foods and drinks just before you are going to consume them and, if you need to store the dish, refrigerate it immediately at 5 degrees Celsius or below so the bacteria cannot grow.
6. Wash your hands with soap and running water and dry thoroughly before handling any food including raw eggs and after handling eggs so you don’t contaminate other food.
“If you have your own hens carefully check any eggs for cracks and wipe off any visible dirt with a dry cloth or paper towel but don’t wash the eggs as this can transfer the contamination into the egg contents,” Ms Williams said.