For better or worse, Rocky made chugging a tall glass of raw, gooey eggs an enduring cultural phenomenon. But is all that really worth it for a few extra nutrients, maybe some street cred, and a possibly serious bacterial infection? While eating raw eggs is common (some studies suggest over 20 percent of egg dishes are undercooked) and often harmless, the risks of making it a habit likely outweigh the benefitsEffect of thermal processing on retinol levels of free-range and caged hen eggs. Ramalho HM, Santos VV, Medeiros VP et al. Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Center of Biosciences, Natal, RN, Brazil. 2006 May-Jun;57(3-4):244-8..
What’s at Steak? — Why It Matters
Photo by Marissa Angell
We’ll never know whether Rocky’s liquid breakfasts helped him become the Champ, or if they just made it that much harder for him to talk. We do know that raw and undercooked eggs (and eggshells) are among the most likely sources of human exposure to salmonella bacteria, a leading cause of foodborne illness in the USRecurrent outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis infections in a Texas restaurant: phage type 4 arrives in the United States. Boyce, T.G., Koo, D., Swerdlow, D.L., et al. Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. 1996;117: 29-34.. The Center for Disease Control estimates over 1.4 million people are infected with salmonella bacteria each year, with over 100,000 cases resulting from raw or undercooked eggs. Whether infection statistics are high enough to deem raw eggs “dangerous” is somewhat subjective, and even when outbreaks and massive egg recalls, the average American still eats over 240 eggs per year with little to no harm done. However, when eating or preparing raw eggs, it’s important to consider who’s eating them— bacterial infections such as salmonellosis most strongly impact those with weak immune systems, such as children or the elderly.
Fry Me a River — The Answer/Debate
Whole eggs are very high in nutrients, though some argue that cooking raw eggs destroys some of their nutritional content. Other studies suggest some widely accepted cooking methods don’t completely eliminate the risk of salmonellaValidation of cooking methods using shell eggs inoculated with Salmonella serotypes Enteritidis and Heidelberg. Davis AL, Curtis PA, Conner DE et al. Department of Poultry Science, Auburn University, Auburn, AL. 2008 Aug;87(8):1637-42.. Even with some nutritional loss, cooked eggs are still great suppliers of essential nutrients such as vitamin AEffect of thermal processing on retinol levels of free-range and caged hen eggs. Ramalho HM, Santos VV, Medeiros VP et al. Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Center of Biosciences, Natal, RN, Brazil. 2006 May-Jun;57(3-4):244-8.. While it isn’t the most reckless way to go raw and won’t necessarily cause illness, there’s always a risk when skipping solid food safety practices by eating undercooked egg.
George Michael thinks it’s downright silly to not cook those eggs.