Thursday, November 20, 2003
Pasteurized Egg Sellers Cluck at Column’s Egg-Bashing
By ROGER M. GRACE
Taking issue with last week’s column on eggs was Gregory M. West, vice president for sales and marketing of National Pasteurized Eggs, LLC, the outfit that dunks its eggs in hot water and sells them to Vons and other markets as “safe” eggs.
Here’s what he said in an e-mail:
The research used in [the “Reminiscing”] article is misguided. I certainly agree there is a total ambiance of flavor that is experienced and in many memories when eating farm fresh eggs. That all changed when salmonella not previously found in eggs has now been found present inside the shell of eggs. Over 2.5 million eggs per year are found contaminated inside the shell. With eggs leading the CDC’s data as the root source of outbreaks due to salmonella and the fact that seniors, children under 10, pregnant women as well as others who have developing or weakened immune systems are highly susceptible to lasting and severe complications due to salmonella, it would be shortsighted to fail to acknowledge the attributes of a safe egg. The leap taken in your article from a comment on the Safeway pasteurized egg to the irradiation articles is poor research. In fact the eggs produced for Safeway are all natural from hens fed no hormones, no antibiotics, no dyes, no animal by products. They are from farms approved by Animal Welfare. Farms kept actually more clean than family farms due to strict cleanliness and HACCP controls. Not to mention the eggs are never irradiated. The science of irradiation is not the same as pasteurization nor is the effect or results on food. These eggs are naturally pasteurized in a warm water bath. (Warm water and air) They are pasteurized and bacteria free. These eggs are pasteurized within 3-5 days of being laid by the hens. They look, taste and perform the same as farm fresh eggs. All this is very important to the 650,000-1,400,000 people who have been stricken with food poisoning sourced from a single contaminated egg in each of the last ten years. Just under 10 million people in ten years. The egg is a great food item, great source of nutrition, amino acids, Choline, Lutein, excellent protein. great for many recipes but for many it has been a nightmare. Thus Safeway/Vons is absolutely correct when they say it is pasteurized for your piece of mind. If you took your worst memory it may not compare to a week with salmonella in your system.
Yesterday, I bought a carton of pasteurized eggs at Von’s (may the striking union forgive me). They were more expensive than conventional eggs, priced at $3.39 a dozen.
As far as West’s assertion that the eggs his company sells “look, taste and perform the same as farm fresh eggs,” well, I don’t know how an egg “performs.” As to the look, I can confirm that the pasteurized eggs have bright orange yokes (in contrast to the yellow ones in eggs laid by chickens that have had dye added to their feed). As to taste—there isn’t much of that. To be fair, the eggs are indistinguishable from the unpasteurized eggs you find in supermarkets. But they’re just not on a par with the eggs the milkman used to bring in days long ago, or the right-from-their-farms eggs Albert and Ursula Vera sell at Sorrento Italian Market in Culver City.
Just what are the chances of contracting salmonella from an egg? CNN reported on Dec. 8, 2000:
“The CDC estimates that one out of every 20,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella. The egg industry, figuring that the typical consumer eats 250 eggs a year, predicts they’d run into one contaminated egg every 80 years. ‘So your risk is very small because that one egg you eat has to be undercooked,’ said Donald McNamara, executive director of the Egg Nutrition Center, an egg industry group.”
According to an article in the December, 2001, issue of Food Technology, Pasteurized Egg Corporation claimed the process of immersing eggs in hot water created a shelf life of up to six months. The eggmongers West works for (who bought out PEC last August) make no such claim. The eggs I bought yesterday (Nov. 19), which arrived that day, had a “sell by” date of Dec. 19.
It’s safety of their product they’re touting, not longevity.
There’s one possible use I might have for pasteurized eggs: in steak tartare. Raw eggs are an indispensable ingredient and, given the concerns about salmonella and the small degree to which the eggs add to taste as opposed to consistency, prudence might dictate use of West’s dunked eggs.
Then the only danger would be from mad cow’s disease.
But as to the eggs I fry and scramble, I think I’ll stick with the ones from Sorrento which taste like those I remember from my childhood.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company
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