Walking on Eggshells:
Do You Know the Risks?
Egg safety begins with the
Tap. Tap. Crack. It’s the early morning sound that, together with the coffee pot’s gurgling, makes us immedi- ately hungry. The egg is the ultimate American food staple. Along with bread, milk, and water,
it’s one of the first foods to sell out in grocery stores
during an extreme weather warning. And there is no
question about it: With an impressive range of vitamins,
minerals, proteins, and good fats, eggs are nature’s perfect food.
Despite Americans’ familiarity with eggs, many do
not know their secret: Eggs are one of the most dangerous foods that we eat. So dangerous that in the last few
years alone, hundreds of millions of eggs have had to be
recalled. Why all the fuss? Because all too often, those
innocent-looking eggs that we buy in the store are contaminated with Salmonella.
And Salmonella is not just trapped inside the eggs.
Salmonella can also be on the egg’s shell. When you buy
eggs at the grocery store, do you open the carton to
make sure they aren’t cracked? Most people do. Do you
ever touch the eggs? Millions of Americans do each day.
Few Americans realize that those innocent-looking eggshells they have just touched may be contaminated with
It All Starts with the Hen
It’s dawn. A hen is sleeping in her community coop.
Shafts of light from the rising sun peek through the
holes of her coop, and she begins to stir. The hen lays
Thus begins the egg’s epic journey to
It does not stay in the nest for long.
As the hen moves about her nest and
begins to peck at the feed brought to
her on the conveyor belt, the egg slowly
rolls down to its own conveyor belt.
Along with the other eggs that have
been laid that day, the egg gradually
makes its way to a processing room.
The egg rolls from one belt to another as it continues through a series
of sizing equipment. Next is another
conveyor that takes it through a cleaning machine. The egg then is dumped
into a water bath to continue the drying
and candling process. Next, it is rolled
back onto yet another conveyor belt to
its next destination. As the egg begins
to dry, a processing worker inspects the
egg and its compadres, carefully removing any eggs that appear to be broken,
malformed, or dirty, essentially any that
have not already been removed during
the candling process.
As the egg continues on its journey,
it passes inspection and moves to the
next part of the process: stamping and
packaging. A special machine gently
suctions the egg and others of its size
into an appropriately sized egg carton.
It is wrapped and placed in cold storage.
From here, the egg could travel to any
number of places. It may be distributed
to the nearest grocery store. It may
be loaded onto a truck and driven to
another state. Or it may be exported
to another country. Most likely, it will
change hands at least three or four more
times before arriving at its final destination, the breakfast plate.
But what does the egg’s journey have
to do with Salmonella?
Many Americans don’t realize that
from before the egg is even laid until
the moment when the egg is packaged
into its carton, there are repeated opportunities for the egg to become contaminated with Salmonella. And not just on
By Jory D. Lange Jr., Esq., and Candess Zona-Mendola