Eggs are one of nature's most nutritious and economical foods, but you must take special care when handling and preparing fresh eggs and egg products to avoid food poisoning. Created: 8/19/2010 by National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (NCEZID/DFWED).
Date Released: 8/19/2010. Series Name: CDC Featured Podcasts.
[Announcer] This podcast is presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC - safer, healthier people.
[Jennifer Mitchell] Hi, I'm Jennifer Mitchell. With me today is Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are discussing ways to reduce your risk of getting a Salmonella infection from eggs. Welcome Dr. Barton Behravesh.
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] Thanks, Jennifer. It's a pleasure to be here.
[Jennifer Mitchell] Dr. Barton Behravesh, what exactly is Salmonella?
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] Salmonella is a germ or type of bacteria that's commonly spread through contaminated food, water, or contact with infected animals. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps in people, and this diarrhea can be so severe that a person may need to be hospitalized.
[Jennifer Mitchell] Where is Salmonella commonly found?
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] Most types of Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds. Salmonella can be found in contaminated foods, like meat and eggs, or even produce items, like tomatoes or leafy greens. Salmonella can be found in water and in the environment, and also in infected animals, like turtles, farm animals, and chickens, even though it's important to note that these animals can still appear healthy. There's a type of Salmonella called Salmonella Enteritidis, that’s commonly found in eggs and egg products.
[Jennifer Mitchell] How do eggs become contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis?
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] Salmonella can live inside chickens, in the ovaries of chickens, even in chickens that appear healthy. And when an egg is forming inside the bird, Salmonella can contaminate the egg.
[Jennifer Mitchell] What can people do to help reduce the risk of getting a Salmonella Enteritidis infection from eggs?
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] There are some simple things people can do to help minimize the risk of illness. First, eggs should be refrigerated at all times. If an egg appears cracked or dirty, it should be thrown out and not used. It's important to wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces, like a kitchen counter or cutting boards, with soap and water right after contact with raw eggs. Eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yellow part, or the yolk, are firm, and, eggs should be eaten promptly after cooking. Eggs should not be kept warm or at room temperature for more than two hours, and if there are any unused or leftover foods containing eggs, they should be refrigerated promptly. People should avoid eating raw eggs, and this includes restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. And if someone wants to cook a recipe, like a Hollandaise sauce or a Caesar salad dressing, that typically calls for raw eggs, they can use pasteurized eggs instead, to make the food safer.
[Jennifer Mitchell] Are there certain groups or types of people who are at increased risk for getting a Salmonella Enteritidis infection?
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] Yes, older persons, infants, and those with weaker immune systems are at an increased risk for getting a Salmonella infection, as well as an increased risk of having a more serious illness that can result in hospitalization or even death.
[Jennifer Mitchell] Where can our listeners get more information on Salmonella?
[Dr. Barton Behravesh] To learn more, you can go to the CDC's website on Salmonella, at www.cdc.gov/salmonella or you can call 1-800-CDC-INFO, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
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