Questions and Answers – Raw Eggs and Pasteurization
How do I pasteurize an egg? I had Tippins (I live in Kansas City) French silk pie yesterday, (Christmas) and, of course, it was like heaven. I have not made one in years because of the salmonella scare–bull, but still I worry a little. The people where I was having dinner said Tippins pasteurizes their eggs. So, how do I do it without cooking them? Thanks a lot for your answer. – Fred Boney (12/26/01)
Following is what the American Egg Board says on using raw eggs:
There have been warnings against consuming raw or lightly cooked eggs on the grounds that the egg may be contaminated with Salmonella, a bacteria responsible for a type of food poisoning. With eggs and all other raw foods from animals, there is a small possibility of Salmonella food poisoning. The risk is greater for those who are pregnant, elderly or very young and those with medical problems which have impaired their immune systems. These individuals should avoid raw and under cooked animal foods.
Raw Egg Whites – Although it is possible for Salmonella to be in both the white and the yolk of the egg, the white does not readily support bacterial growth. Cold souffle, mousses, and chiffons containing raw beaten whites require refrigeration to maintain their character, and added safety factor. Such dishes might be considered low risk for healthy individuals.
Healthy people need to remember that there is a very small risk and treat eggs and other raw animal foods accordingly. Use only properly refrigerated, clean, sound-shelled, fresh, grade AA or A eggs. Avoid mixing yolks and whites with the shell. Refrigerate broken-out eggs, prepared egg dishes and other foods if you won’t be consuming them within an hour.
For summer outings, use ice or coolant in an insulated bag or cooler to keep cold foods cold (40 F. or lower) and thermal containers to keep hot foods hot (140 F. or higher). When toting raw eggs on outings, leave them in their shells. Immediately consume, refrigerate or freeze raw or lightly cooked egg dishes. Eggnog and homemade ice cream should be based on a cooked stirred custard to ensure safety.
The kitchen, too, can be a source of bacteria. Clean hands and equipment, sanitary food handling practices, proper cooking and adequate refrigeration are essential in safely preparing all foods.
Making Egg White Meringue with Pasteurized Eggs:
Pasteurized egg whites do not tend to get fluffy as easily as the unpasteurized egg whites in making meringue, but allowing them to warm to room temperature will help to counteract this tendency toward heaviness. Beaten pasteurized egg whites may never reach the volume of unpasteurized egg whites. If you need a specific volume of meringue (enough to cover a pie), use more egg whites than the recipe calls for to make sure you have enough.
Pasteurized egg whites are not a concern when preparing a meringue that is going to be baked longer than ten minutes in a moderate oven (350 degrees F. /175 degrees C).
If your eggs are not pasteurized and you want further safety, combine the eggs whites with the sugar in the recipe (using a minimum of 2 tablespoons of sugar per white) and beat over hot water or over low heat in a heavy saucepan until the whites stand in soft peaks. Without sugar, the whites will coagulate too rapidly and produce an unsatisfactory meringue. This is the same procedure used in making 7-minute Frosting and can be used to make Royal Icing or other frostings ordinarily containing raw whites.
Raw Egg Yolks:
Raw egg yolks are a fine growth medium for bacteria. It is best to cook yolks for use in such dishes as cold souffle, chiffons, mousses, mayonnaise, and Hollandaise sauce.
To cook yolks, the recipe must contain at least 2 tablespoons of liquid per yolk. Less liquid will produce scrambled eggs. Simply combine the yolks with the liquid in the recipe. Cook in a heavy saucepan over a very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats a metal spoon, bubbles at the edges or reaches 160 F. Cool quickly and proceed with the recipe.
One of several types of bacteria which can cause food poisoning (salmonellosis) if ingested in large numbers. It is found in the intestinal tract of animals, birds, insects, reptiles, seafood, and people. The bacteria can easily be passed from the intestinal tract to the hands and onto food.
Although the inside of the egg was once considered almost sterile, Salmonella enteritidis (Se) has been found recently inside a small number of eggs (much less than 1%). If an egg does contain Se, the numbers in a freshly laid egg probably will be small and, if the eggs are properly refrigerated, will not multiply enough to cause illness in a healthy person.
The majority of salmonellosis outbreaks have been attributed to foods other than eggs (chicken, beef, and fish—to human carriers), and through them, utensils and other foods during preparation. Of the outbreaks involving eggs, almost all have occurred in the food service sector and have been the result of inadequate refrigeration and insufficient cooking.
Se will not grow at temperatures below 40 F. and is killed at 160 F., known as the danger zone, are ideal for rapid growth.
Illness from Se can be avoided through adequate refrigeration, proper cooking and sanitary kitchen and food handling procedures.