When you buy eggs in America, the carton usually carries this warning message:
SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria: Keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.
I always wondered why. I eat raw eggs over rice almost every day when I'm visiting my parents in Tokyo, and then I fly back to California and promptly switch to scrambled eggs because of this fear that I'll get sick from eating raw eggs in America.
Tamago kake gohan
Scoop some rice into a small bowl, and dig a hole in the middle. Crack an egg into the hole. Add a dash of soy sauce. Mix everything together. Optional: Add furikake, pickles, sour plum, fried fish, cod roe.
Image via Gourmet.com
There's a 1 in 20,000 chance that an egg might contain salmonella, according to the American Egg Board
. "The risk of getting a foodborne illness from eggs is very low, but the nutrients in eggs are also a good growth medium for bacteria," says Elisa Malobert, director of egg product marketing at the AEB. "To eliminate risk, we do not recommend the consumption of raw or lightly cooked eggs." It doesn't matter, she adds, whether you're eating organic and free range $8-a-dozen farm fresh eggs or super-processed $2 eggs. (Egg "grades" are determined by appearance and yolk-to-white ratio, not content quality.) Hens aren't affected by salmonella, so they can carry it and pass it onto egg yolk without anyone knowing. And if that doesn't happen, salmonella could enter through the shell after the bloom — the natural coating that protects the inside — is washed off after collection. Egg shells are super porous; there are anywhere from 7-17,000 pores on a single shell.
My brother got salmonella once from eating raw chicken at a high-end yakitori restaurant in Tokyo. I know, I know. Raw eggs are debatable, but nobody in their right minds eats raw chicken! This might imply that the Japanese are less concerned about food safety, but on the other hand, most restaurants there will never wrap up food to go precisely because food can go bad once it's no longer fresh and they don't want to be liable for that. If I can guess at any reason why the Japanese are more inclined to eat raw everything, it might be because the culture inherently appreciates and celebrates the purity of unprocessed, uncooked flavors. I don't have any numbers for the incidence of salmonella in Japanese eggs, but I'm assuming that, like American eggs, it's not that common.
Raw eggs are a great source of Vitamins B12 and D; they also have tons of protein. If you're willing to see past the USDA warning and try it, I highly recommend making tamago kake gohan — raw egg on rice — for breakfast.
Every installment of Taste Test will explore recipes, the science, and some history behind a specific food item.
Image via Gep's Flickr
I get a huge kick out of the videos of the always-entertaining nerd whisperer Jenny Nicholson. If you haven’t seen her channel, check it out and watch as she sits on her bed, surrounded by sci-fi plushies, and shares her quirky, sometimes labyrinthine, and often convincing theories and opinions on sci-fi and fantasy films, comic […]
Mr. Grabher’s personalized plate, GRABHER, has never been a problem until this year’s renewal. The BBC reports that the Nova Scotian motorist was refused permission to plate up his own name—of fine German vintage—by the local transport department. He blames Trump. “I’ve never once had anybody come up to me and say they were offended,” […]
The Miele PG 8528 is a “washer-disinfector” intended for hospitals and other locations with potentially dangerous pathogens on their dirty dishes; it’s networked and smart. And dumb.
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]