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Proper handling, cooking keeps eggs safe
By Deborah Pankey | Daily Herald Food Editor

Five eggs in carton

 

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Published: 9/1/2010 12:00 AM | Updated: 9/1/2010 12:14 PM

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Eggs have joined peanut butter and spinach as a taboo food, at least for the time being.

Millions of eggs produced at two Iowa farms have been recalled after some 1,300 cases of food poisoning were linked to the eggs.

That has me questioning why people eat raw or undercooked eggs in the first place.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous other food safety authorities, cooking an egg reduces the number of salmonella bacteria that can be present inside and on the shell, cutting the chances of illness. However, if the egg white and yolk are not fully cooked (like if the yolk is still runny) some bacteria could remain. The next time you lick brownie batter off the spoon or order an egg over easy, remember that there's some risk involved. Wait until the brownies come out of the oven and try an omelet instead.

To reduce your risk, the CDC stresses the following:

• Keep eggs refrigerated below 45 degrees and discard any eggs with cracked shells.

• Wash hands, work surface and utensils before food preparation. I'd add washing the egg (in shell, of course!) to that list. Don't wash the egg until you're ready to use it and handle it with care to avoid damaging the shell. I suggest a mixture of equal parts warm water and vinegar, the same solution you'd use to wash produce.

• Eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm and eaten promptly after cooking.

• Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than two hours. After two hours, throw it out. This goes for all foods: bacteria thrive at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees.

• Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods promptly.

• Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing) that calls for raw eggs.

Follow these precautions and you'll be able to enjoy deviled eggs and potato salad at your Labor Day picnic without any intestinal issues.

Sweet spot: Eli's Cheesecake World, the 62,000-square-foot bakery, visitors center, retail cafe, dessert cafe and corporate headquarters on Chicago's Northwest side, was named "One of America's Top Ten Sweetest Attractions" by Tripadvisor.

Created by restaurateur Eli Schulman as the signature dessert for his restaurant, Eli's the Place for Steak, Eli's Cheesecake has become a cultural icon, featured at celebrations around Chicago and in restaurants around the suburbs and the nation.

Catch a tour ($3 a person) at 1 p.m. daily at Eli's Cheesecake World, 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago. The bakery doesn't operate Saturdays and Sundays, but you can still get a taste of Eli's history and products for free (!) from 1 to 2 p.m.

• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at food@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Listen to her discuss food and restaurant trends on Restaurant Radio, 5 to 6 p.m. Saturdays on WIND 560 AM. Be her friend on Facebook.com at Deb Pankey Daily Herald.