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Food Safety Expert Offers Tips to Be Safe in Wake of Costco & Safeway Egg Recall
Date:3/23/2009

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- In light of the recent recall of eggs by den Dulk farms due to Salmonella, California-based food safety expert Jeff Nelken is strongly advising Americans, especially pregnant women, children and those 55 or older, to take precautions when eating eggs at home or in restaurants.

More than 93 percent of Americans consume eggs, potentially one of the most dangerous foods in terms of food-borne illness. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Salmonella illness is responsible for 1.4 million illnesses, 15,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths in the U.S. annually. Salmonella side effects can range from gastrointestinal distress to arthritis and even death. At-risk groups, including pregnant women, children under 10, those 55 or older or those with a compromised immune system due to disease or illness are at risk for major complications, including bone marrow disease, heart valve damage and if pregnant, miscarriage.

"Eggs have always been a high risk food due to the number of eggs that carry Salmonella and the potential cross contamination within the kitchen," said Nelken, who has advised food manufacturers, restaurant chains and others on food safety issues for years. "Many think that cooking, cleaning or refrigerating can eliminate Salmonella. Not true! You must cook it to 160 degrees and if you don't, just one egg with Salmonella, mixed in with others for a larger dish or tracked through a kitchen, has the potential to sicken hundreds."

Nelken said that three out of 10 Americans still eat their eggs in styles that are undercooked such as over easy and sunnyside up and seven of 10 Americans eat scrambled eggs, which can also pose a risk if they are served softly scrambled. The best way to deal with Salmonella in foods is to remove the risk before it enters the kitchen, Nelken said.

He recommends using only pasteurized shell or liquid eggs when cooking to eliminate potential cross contamination. Some tips from Nelken to ensure food safety when prepping and cooking:

  1. Cook your foods to the proper temperatures; eggs need to reach 160 degrees throughout. Cook eggs to a point where yolks and whites are solidified. Use a thermometer to be sure.
  2. Purchase pasteurized eggs -- make sure the label says pasteurized -- and enjoy a full range of foods such as eggs over easy, cookie dough or Caesar salad, without the risk associated with non-pasteurized eggs.
  3. Wash hands frequently when handling raw egg products and before and after handling eggs.
  4. Refrigerate eggs. Make sure not to expose eggs to the "danger zone" temperatures of between 41-135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask how food is prepared when dining out. Make sure kitchens practice food safety preparation. Kitchens should not save egg wash, use batter containing eggs from one meal to the next or pool eggs. Don't eat eggs that are prepared in lightly cooked styles unless pasteurized shell eggs are used.

If consumers have eggs involved in the recall, they should contact the store where they were purchased. If consumers are not sure about the eggs they have, they should call their local health department.


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SOURCE National Pasteurized Eggs
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