I love eggs over easy for breakfast, but lately, I’m hesitant to order my eggs that way because of mixed messages I’ve heard about eggs and a recall. Can you tell me what’s going on and about the risk of eating my eggs with a runny yolk?
While many people enjoy their eggs over easy, an egg that’s fried just until the whites are set on the bottom and then flipped over and lightly cooked on the other side, leaving the yolk runny, is not the best choice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Instead, the government agency recommends that eggs be cooked until both the yolk and the white are firm, to help consumers avoid foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella. In fact, the CDC recommends against eating undercooked or raw eggs, due to the increased risk of foodborne illness associated with unpasteurized eggs. In eggs, both the yolk and whites can be contaminated with Salmonella.
A Salmonella outbreak linked to eggs is spreading across multiple states and has infected 35 consumers as of May 10, the CDC said. As a result, an Indiana-based egg farm has recalled some 207 million eggs for fear they may be contaminated with Salmonella, a microorganism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
The recalled eggs were sold in grocery stores and to restaurants under multiple brand names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Crystal Farms, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, Publix, Sunshine Farms and Sunups, with plant number P-1065 and the Julian date range of 011 through date of 102 printed on the carton, according the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Consumers who find they’ve purchased these eggs should throw them out immediately or return them to the place of purchase for refund, even if they’ve already eaten some and haven't gotten sick, the CDC says. The CDC also advises that you should disinfect the shelves or drawers in your fridge where the eggs were stored.
Additionally, you should always wash your hands and any items that come into contact with raw eggs with soap and water. That includes countertops, utensils, dishes and cutting boards.
While some people with Salmonellosis don’t experience severe symptoms, others can have gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, within eight to 72 hours. And while most healthy people recover within a few days without specific treatment, some people may require hospitalization.
So, while it’s best to avoid eating raw and undercooked eggs, eggs are still a delicious, nutritious food. For instance, one large egg contains vitamins A, B5, B12, D, E, K and B6, folate, phosphorus, selenium, calcium and zinc, with only 70 calories, according to the American Egg Board.
It’s just best to eat them fully cooked.
Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor: This column was reviewed by Abigail Snyder, an assistant professor and food safety field specialist for CFAES.