This was the article in question in the Daily Telegraph yesterday that implied that it was okay for pregnant women to go back to eating raw eggs.
However, in actual fact the article only refers to British ‘Red Lion’ approved eggs that are on sale as these have been tested and proven to be free of salmonella.
85% of eggs sold in the UK have the Red Lion quality mark but 15% of the eggs sold in the UK do not.
That 15% is likely to be from producers who have less than 50 laying hens and not liable to register their business.
To put this into perspective there are an estimated 33million eggs consumed each day in the UK – that means that 15% or almost 5 million eggs are not registered and carry a Red Lion quality mark. Here is the link to the regulation if you wish to read them. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/eggs-trade-regulations
What interested me was that those selling eggs who had under 350 laying hens and supplied directly to the consumer or through local outlets did not have to comply with the Salmonella National Control Programme.
Salmonella National Control Programme (NCP) for laying hens.
The requirements of the NCP apply to all operators producing eggs on a commercial basis, except where:
- all production is for private domestic use
- the holding has fewer than 350 hens and supplies direct to the consumer or via local retailers
The other concern that I have, is hat there are millions of eggs used in industrially produced foods that may or may not have come from regulated sources. Whilst they are cooked and not raw it still raises health concerns as far as I am concerned.
Back to the raw eggs. Whilst there is much less risk of salmonella poisoning from eating raw eggs than a decade ago.. I would still not eat raw eggs and I certainly would not recommend them to someone who is pregnant.
Having said that all of that I consider eggs one of the most versatile packages of food that we can include in our diet.
Here is a breakdown of the main nutritional elements that are so important in a healty diet.
Eggs are an excellent source of choline and selenium, and a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin.
PROTEIN – We are made of protein and very cell in our bodies and every function requires protein to survive, thrive and repair itself. It is involved in hormone manufacture, our soft tissue, bone strength, haemoglobin that combines with iron to carry oxygen around the body and the vitality and strength of our hair and nails. The body needs food to obtain protein and so including foods such as eggs and other protein rich foods is essential.
N.B It is easy to think that as protein is good for us that we should eat as much as we like. In fact the body can only handle around 10 to 15% of our daily intake as protein on a regular basis as the body goes into overload. Kidney’s in particular are vulnerable. This particular refers to animal based proteins.
CHOLINE: One of the few substances that can penetrate the brain membranes, raising levels of acetylcholine a neurotransmitter that may improve focus and memory. Acetylcholine is also necessary for stimulating the contraction of all muscles including the facial muscles. This may help maintain a youthful appearance. Choline also seems to help with controlling cholesterol, keeping arteries clear.
SELENIUM: A very important trace mineral that activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which may help protect the body from cancer. It is vital for immune system function and may help prevent prostate cancer.
PHOSPHORUS: Essential for bone formation and production of red blood cells. Also needed for the production of ATP fuel for energy. Small amounts are involved in most of the chemical reactions throughout the body
VITAMIN B2: RIBOFLAVIN; Also essential for metabolising carbohydrates to produce ATP, and also fats, amino acids and proteins too. It is necessary to activate Vitamin B6 and Folic Acid. It works with enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins.
VITAMIN B12: CYANOCOLBALAMIN; Essential for the efficient working of every cell in the body especially those with a rapid turnover rate and it prevents their degeneration. It works with B6 and Folic Acid to control Homocysteine levels in the blood. It is involved in the synthesis of DNA and the proper functioning of the Nervous system by maintaining myelin surrounding the nerves. It is involved in the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for resetting our biological clock’s rhythm when we change to a new time zone and aiding sleep patterns. It is used in the treatment of diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Anaemia, Low Blood Pressure, hearing disorders, asthma and allergies, infertility and cancer
VITAMIN D: CHOLECALCIFEROL; Essential for maintaining blood levels of calcium by increasing absorption from food and decreasing loss from urine. This maintains a balance preventing calcium from being removed from the stores in the bones. It also plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system and blood cell formation. It may protect against prostate cancer. It is needed for adequate levels of insulin and may protect the body from Multiple Sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile diabetes.
VITAMIN E: TOCOPHEROL; As an antioxidant it protects cell membranes and other fat-soluble parts of the body such as LDL cholesterol from oxidative damage and blood vessels. It can be used topically for skin health and is involved in the reproductive system. It may help prevent circulatory problems that lead to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease by preventing clots from forming. It improves the pulmonary function of the lungs and enhances the white blood cells ability to resist infection.
WHAT IS SALMONELLA?
The most common source of Salmonella is in eggs. There has been a great deal of publicity over the last 15 years as to the level of infection in the eggs that we buy in our supermarkets or at our local corner shop. My philosophy is that all food should be treated with respect and that no living organism is completely germ or parasite free. We as humans are host to a number of parasitic infections and should accept that the food we consume is likely to be so too. Err on the side of caution and do not take risks with any food that you consume.
PREPARING EGGS SAFELY.
Provided the egg is thoroughly cooked the bacteria will be killed, but if you use raw eggs or prefer your eggs under cooked you could be putting yourself at risk. The most likely to suffer from the resulting gastric enteritis are the elderly, babies and people who have an impaired immune system.
The symptoms associated with Salmonella poisoning are a fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea beginning 12 to 72 hours after eating the infected food. The illness lasts between 4 and 7 days and the biggest danger in the elderly and babies is dehydration and loss of essential nutrients. The other risk is that the infection may spread from the intestines into the bloodstream and of course then has access to the entire body.
It is essential that medical attention is sought if any stomach upset lasts for more than 24 hours in the elderly, babies or young children and 48 hours in a normally healthy adult. It is very important that dehydration is prevented by increasing fluid levels – room temperature water, which is sipped, can often be kept down. You can obtain solutions from a chemist that will help re-establish the electrolyte balance in the system and replace essential nutrients that have been lost.
HOW DO EGGS BECOME INFECTED?
Salmonella infects the ovaries of healthy hens and contaminates the eggs before the shells are formed. Salmonella also lives in the intestines of other animals in the food chain and if food is not stored correctly or cooked thoroughly then it can be passed to Humans.
POINTS TO REMEMBER.
Always store and cook foods such as eggs, poultry and meat safely and at the correct temperatures.
If salmonella is present in an egg, if it is refrigerated it will prevent the salmonella from increasing in number.
Do not use cracked eggs.
Always wash your hands and utensils after contact with raw eggs.
Eat eggs as soon as they are cooked do not keep warm for longer than an hour or two at a time.
Always refrigerate leftovers.
Do not eat food at home or in restaurants that contain raw eggs such as ice cream or steak tartar.
Be aware that some dressings when you eat out are made with raw egg such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar dressing.
The views that I express are my own and I am sure that the Egg Marketing Board in the UK are thrilled to have this article circulating after a decade of concerns over salmonella infection in eggs. However, when it comes to the health of an unborn child.. I would rather err on the side of caution.
Thanks for dropping by and please feel free to share. Sally