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A good egg 11/10
(This article is adapted from the "Good Living" column in the November 2010 ShopSmart magazine.)

You’ve no doubt heard about the two gigantic egg farms in Iowa that were at the center of the recent huge recall. But what you might not know is that the rate of salmonella enteriditis infection (the kind specific to eggs) had doubled since last May, setting off warnings to state health departments.

Weak food–safety regulations are a big part of the growing problem, but so is the giant-scale, factory-style farming that this country relies on and that has been at the root of many recent food-safety incidents.

There’s no guarantee that smaller, or better-managed, farms are always safer. But you can buy eggs laid by chickens at farms with more space and better hygiene and animal-welfare practices. And you can look for products that are independently certified, like those labeled "Certified Human" or "USDA Certified Organic" (produced by small and factory-sized farms). A more decentralized system could reduce large food recalls.

Also, antibiotics can’t be fed on a daily basis to "Certified Humane" hens or used at all in "organic" hens, an otherwise common practice that can mask bad hygiene until it gets really bad.

So our advice is be a good egg and, when possible, support local farmers markets or buy "organic" or "Certified Humane" eggs.

Safer ways to cook with eggs

You can reduce your risk of getting sick from eggs by carefully following all the safety tips from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Salmonella is always a danger if you eat raw or undercooked eggs, such as those called for in recipes for meringues, salad dressings, ice cream, or eggnog. Consumer Reports test-kitchen experts advise that if uncooked eggs are needed for a recipe, you should use pasteurized eggs. They cost more, but they’ve been heated to kill bacteria. And the shells are waxed to help prevent cross-contamination.

For recipes calling for raw egg whites, such as a meringue pie, use pasteurized dried or pasteurized refrigerated liquid egg whites. And we hate to be a killjoy—but never, ever nibble on raw cookie dough!

Beware of exploding eggs

Microwaving eggs in their shells will cause them to explode. Even if they’re not in their shells, they might burst in the microwave. Rapid heating causes steam to build up under the yolk membrane faster than it can escape. But nuked scrambled eggs turn out great.

Related links

The truth about salmonella and eggs 10/10

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Shelled Egg Recall Products List

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