- Birds and reptiles share their reproductive & gastrointestinal tracts, which join up to exit the body. So colonization of the gut tracks up the oviducts and into the ovaries, as well. Eggs form & develop a shell inside the oviduct, thereby sealing in Salmonella.
- Birds from hatcheries and flocks share germs easily. Salmonella is shed in their stool & persists in the environment long enough to be pecked up by others.
- Salmonella contaminates many processed foods, including organic products & pet feeds, very very often. Follow FDA Recall reports for a while & you’ll see. (I deny responsibility for lost sleep, but here’s the link, for the intrepid: http://www.foodsafety.gov/)
So you can get a chicken from a flock harboring Salmonella anywhere, anytime. Even if you start with “clean” chicks, if you give them processed feed, they may get colonized. And once colonized, a hen can transmit Salmonella to her offspring in the shell, and that hen to her offspring, etc, etc.
- Wash hands and eggs with soap and water before cracking. I leave them unwashed in the carton & separate from other foods in the fridge. The, ahem, ”natural coating” actually keeps them from dehydrating & losing freshness over time, compared to washed eggs. Tip: The smaller that little air pocket in the shell is, the fresher your egg is.
- Cook at MINIMUM until the yolk is at least soft to set. To kill Salmonella, the yolk (intact or scrambled) needs to reach 140F for 3 minutes to achieve 3 log reduction in bacteria, 149F for <1 minute for 100% kill. (Auerbach: Wilderness Medicine, 6th ed. Ch. 67-Field Water Disinfection)
Discourage those who are very young, very old, or have compromised immunity or other health risks from eating eggs cooked less than fully set.
Buy more farm eggs! Economically support my local farmers who pasture their chickens and avoid unnecessary antibiotics. The less I contribute economically to battery cages, factory farm practices, and the use of antibiotics as “growth promoters” (i.e. keep the hens alive enough to lay), the better it is environmentally, for the public health (antibiotic resistant organisms are a far greater risk to a far greater number), and my conscience. I’m willing to accept the much lower risk of Salmonellosis for that. :}
Now, what time is breakfast?…