Salmonella :: Practice Egg Safety this Holiday Season to avoid foodborne illness

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds consumers to pay special attention to the handling of eggs and preparation of foods that contain eggs during this holiday season.

Some holiday favorites, such as cookie dough, homemade eggnog, and some types of stuffing, may contain eggs that are raw or undercooked.

Eggs sometimes contain a bacteria called Salmonella enteriditis (SE), which can cause illness if eggs are not handled and cooked properly.

An FDA national survey of consumer food safety practices, the 2006 FDA/FSIS Food Safety Survey, found that cookie dough is one of the major sources of raw egg in the American diet, and that only three percent of respondents always use a food thermometer when they cook baked egg dishes such as stuffing.

To avoid egg-related illness from holiday foods:

* Do not eat unbaked cookie dough.
* Cook baked egg-containing dishes to 160 degrees F.
* Make recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs, like eggnog, with eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella or with pasteurized egg products.

An estimated 118,000 illnesses per year are caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with SE. To help consumers avoid these illnesses, FDA requires the following statement on packages of fresh eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella:

Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

Following these instructions is important for everyone, but especially for those most vulnerable to foodborne illness?young children; the elderly; persons with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as AIDS, cancer or diabetes, or treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer; persons with weakened immune systems due to steroid use; and persons with immune suppression after organ transplantation.

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