How Do Eggs Get Salmonella

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How Do Eggs Get Salmonella ?

All kinds of foods are susceptible to contamination by bacteria and viruses. However, it has been seen that eggs are more susceptible to getting contaminated by salmonella bacteria compared to any other food. For a layperson it can be a mystery how salmonella bacteria get into the egg. (See Reference 1)

While eggs sold commercially are cleansed and pasteurized to reduce the incidences of salmonella, there are still some eggs that end up getting salmonella. (See Reference 2) According to the American Egg Board, the shell forms a protection around the egg to prevent contaminants from entering. There is a possibility that bacteria from the feces of the hens can adhere to outside of the shell. However, with proper washing of the eggs with detergents and thereafter sterilizing, the bacteria are completely removed from the outside. (See Reference 1)

It is a known fact that salmonella live in the intestinal tract of chickens and other animals. At times, the salmonella can be introduced into the hen via the chickenfeed. (See Reference 2) When this happens, there is no way of knowing that the hen is infected or carrier of the bacteria as no visible symptoms appear. (See Reference 1 and 2) The bacteria in the infected hen go on to infect the ovaries and the infection is present in the egg before the formation of the shell occurs. (See Reference 1) When the internal temperature of the hen reaches around 102 deg. F, the bacteria tend to multiply. However, even then the hen does not have any symptoms of the illness and there is no way a commercial poultry farmer can figure out that a particular hen is infected or a carrier. (See Reference 2)

It has been found that 1 egg out of 20,000 contains low amounts of the bacteria. However, this number, which is usually 2 to 5 microorganisms, is too little to cause salmonella as it takes around 100 salmonella bacteria for a person to fall sick. (See Reference 2) If these contaminated eggs are not cooled down quickly, the bacteria will begin to multiply and their number will increase sufficiently to cause salmonella in the person who consumes the egg. Under ideal conditions, it takes the bacteria just twenty minutes to double in number. (See Reference 2)

Another way that salmonella gets into the eggs is through the nine thousand pores present in the eggshell. Once an egg is laid, improper handling of the eggs or coming in contact with dirty hands can cause the transference of salmonella from outside the shell to the inside via the tiny pores present in the shell. (See Reference 2)

Once salmonella enters the egg, it tends to get concentrated in the membrane surrounding the yolk. So, even having a sunny-side-up egg can result in an infection. It is best to cook the entire egg to prevent salmonellosis. (See Reference 2) Every year, in the US, 130,000 people fall ill after consuming eggs that contain the salmonella bacteria. (See Reference 2)

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How Do Eggs Get Salmonella 1. How Do Eggs Get Salmonella?

2. Discovery News: How Does Salmonella Get Into Eggs?