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Make Them Overdone At my favorite breakfast place, I always say, "Hey Ralph – make my eggs over easy but nuke the Salmonella!"

If you got them well done, you wouldn't have to worry about it.

A lot more people may be doing that after the nation wide egg recall.

You know that half a billion eggs were recalled? So far, people in nearly a third of the states got sick all from the same strain of salmonella.

That's typical of a single source.

In some nifty epidemiological detective work, using a technique called pulse-field gel electrophoresis, public health officials first matched the salmonella in all the infected people. Then they matched the salmonella to the contaminated eggs.

The question with these outbreaks is always "what is the source of the contaminating Salmonella."

In this case the chicken feed and a breakdown in sanitation were responsible.

Remember from our graduate student days when we raised chickens in the lab?

Mice would sneak in, eat the chicken feed and leave fecal pellets in the food.

Mice, along with many other animals, can carry salmonella in their intestinal tracts.

The hens get infected by the soiled feed, and pass the salmonella to the eggs during laying, or the eggs get contaminated in the nests.

Amazingly, Salmonella can penetrate the imperfections in the eggshell and get inside.

To prevent this, procedures require that eggs be disinfected, so this type of fecal contamination on the surface of the shell is uncommon today.

It takes about one hundred thousand Salmonella to get you sick.

So, if the eggs are refrigerated quickly and kept cold, the bacteria do not have time to multiply.

The ultimate fix is cooking the eggs thoroughly, which will kill the bacteria.

Like my wife always says, make mine overdone!


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For more information…

Investigation Update: Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Associated with Shell Eggs
CDC report of the outbreak of Salmonella in eggs which includes a timeline of the investigation of this major outbreak of Salmonella in eggs.
For more information…

Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella from Eggs
Podcast describing methods in the preparation of eggs and egg products that help reduce the chance of food poisoning.
For more information…

CDC website that is the portal to a vast array of information about Salmonella mediated disease and the bacterium. The site also contains epidemiological information and statistics.
For more information…


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