Pasteurising eggs to protect against Salmonella

Tuesday, 07 May, 2019

Pasteurising eggs to protect against <em>Salmonella</em>

Australian Pasteurised Eggs (APE) has suggested that whole-egg, in-shell pasteurisation can prevent the risks of Salmonella in the egg supply chain, benefitting both consumers and businesses.

Australia has the highest incident rate of Salmonella outbreaks in the developed world, most of which are due to the mishandling of eggs in the supply chain. A single egg with Salmonella can contaminate work surfaces 40 cm away, leaving bacteria that persist for 24 hours.

According to APE research, one in three Australians are especially vulnerable to foodborne illnesses caused by pathogens such as Salmonella, particularly the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, people with poor nutrition, kidney or liver disease and those undergoing cancer treatment.

As well as causing a number of hospitalisations, outbreaks can result in fines and reputational damage for businesses. For example, Alasya Restaurant and Takeaway was recently fined $80,000 after 135 diners suffered from Salmonella poisoning and Sylvania Bakery was fined $122,000 after 200 people became ill due to Salmonella. The research also found 83% of people will not visit a restaurant that has been fined for food poisoning, whether or not they had ever dined there themselves.

“Under current legislation, food businesses must cook with and serve pasteurised products. Until now, this has meant kitchens have had to use products such as liquid whole egg pulp, which sacrifice on flavour and culinary versatility,” explained food safety and quality advocate Gabrielle Thoreau.

Eggs must be cooked to temperatures in excess of 63–76ºC to eradicate Salmonella, so food service operators that choose to serve runny fried, poached or scrambled eggs are potentially putting their customers at risk.

However, APE said it uses technology that removes 99.999% of the bacteria while preserving the flavour, texture and appearance of the egg, and extending shelf life to 90 days.

“Pasteurising an egg starts with freshly laid shell eggs from approved, certified and inspected farms. The process involves submerging eggs into moving water baths using precise time and temperature zones to pasteurise and kill the bacteria. They are then coated with food-grade wax to further protect the outer shell,” Thoreau said.

“For a long time, eggs have been taken off the menu due to the risks or replaced with a substitute like liquid pulp. This new technology is a game changer for the hospitality industry as it allows people to enjoy runny eggs again, without the concern of becoming sick.”

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