Filed Under: Meat

Salmonella from eggs? A real-world risk assessment

“Isn’t everybody afraid to eat eggs?” asks the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Not so, reports the paper’s food editor, noting that egg consumption has risen about 20 percent since 1996. As for the great Salmonella Enteriditis (SE) scare of 2001, the Post-Gazette adds a little common sense to the hysteria: “The chance of an egg being contaminated by SE is 1 in 20,000. If it is contaminated and you cook it, it’s perfectly safe… if you’re eating [the national average of] 258 eggs per year, and the chance is 1 in 20,000, that’s once every 54 years – and even that has to be an egg that is time- and temperature-abused and undercooked by you.”

In a related Post-Gazette article, local egg farmers defend the much-maligned practice of “beak-trimming” young chicks. The Egg Nutrition Center’s Donald McNamara also weighs in, saying that the animal rights activists have it all wrong – the practice is intended to prevent the cannibalism of injured birds. “That’s where the term ‘pecking order’ comes from,” says McNamara. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture supervisor John Stella agrees: “McDonald’s is crazy [for giving in to animal-rights pressure tactics]. This does not hurt the chicken.” Says local farmer Ina Greenwalt: “It’s just like trimming your fingernails.”

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