Lately I’ve been getting lots of emails from people who are wondering if raw eggs safe.
We have all been warned from a young age of the dangers of eating raw eggs. So you may have been perplexed when you joined the Paleo revolution and were told that raw eggs were healthy. There is plenty of solid research proving that eating raw eggs is both nutritious and safe—if you follow some basic precautions.
The most significant issue to consider before eating raw eggs is the source from which they come. Tightly confined spaces result in unsanitary conditions, which highly increase the risk of salmonella contamination. The majority of eggs tested from typical sources contained extremely high salmonella contamination
Conventional store-bought eggs test the highest in contamination due to the extremely unsanitary conditions in which the hens live. Yet even cage-free and free-range eggs can’t always be trusted because the terms “cage free” and “free range” can be interpreted in so many different ways. These hens whose eggs are labeled as one of these may still live in tight, enclosed, unclean areas most of their lives, with just enough space and roaming time to be considered legally marketed under one of those terms. For example, one study found that 23% of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, and even free-range farms came in at 6.5% contamination, while organic farms were at 4 % contamination. Even though 4% contamination is significantly smaller than 23%, if you eat raw eggs on a regular basis, this is still an unsafe threat.
The only type of egg that is truly safe to eat raw is a pastured egg. Pastured eggs come from hens who are allowed to roam free in pastures and eat their natural diet, with some grain supplementation. They are not disinfected, but since they are able to move freely, their environment isn’t as easily infected or contaminated. In fact, there have been no reports of salmonella contamination in any pastured eggs. It is best, of course, to get pastured eggs from a farmer you trust so that you know that the hens really live in sanitary locations. And there is no need for the farmers to have an organic certification as long as you know them and how they run their farm.
Because eggs are often contaminated through the shell, usually because they have come into contact with feces, an additional safety measure, even with pastured eggs, is to wash the shells with warm water and mild dish soap. This helps ensure that any possible contamination is washed clean before you consume the egg.
An additional perk of eating pastured eggs is their extra nutritional value. A study completed by Mother Earth News found that pastured eggs have:
- 7 times the amount of beta carotene
- 5 times more vitamin D
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 2/3 more vitamin A than industrial, grade A or B store-bought eggs.
As is so often the case, conventional wisdom isn’t always exactly correct. So go ahead and enjoy your raw eggs!
Recipes using raw eggs: