How come raw chicken is considered a high salmonella risk, while raw chicken eggs are considered low risk in the US?

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I’m based in the US, and I know sanitation practices for eggs are different throughout the world. I would like to center the question around that.

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I’ve also read infected chickens pass salmonella to their eggs, which doesn’t make sense to me as raw eggs are consumed very frequently in the US and is socially acceptable, while raw chicken is considered extremely unsafe.

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Well first off, raw eggs are absolutely a salmonella risk. It is significantly lower than raw chicken though. Still like 30 or so people a year die from it in the US, and over 100,000 people get sick from it a year.

~~However eggs are pasteurized (in the US) (except for smaller direct to consumer stuff like at farmers markets where they are generally labelled as uninspected) which kills off most of it.~~ In addition while salmonella can end up inside the egg most of the time it’s surface contamination on the shell.

With whole chicken the salmonella is easily passed around during processing unlike eggs which fo right into a carton from the wash. And chicken isn’t usually heat treated like eggs, so a rather large percentage of raw chicken you get at the store ends up contaminated. Something like 1 in 10 packages of chicken vs 1 in 20,000 eggs.

There is a risk from eggs, and not just the shell. Also, AFAIK raw eggs are not consumed frequently in the US because of this risk. Where did your information come from?

Technically, meat from any animal that’s free from disease is safe to consume raw as long as the entrails aren’t pierced during the slaughtering process. The problem chickens are small animals and they are harder to butcher properly without piercing the guts which will contaminate the meat. The egg is produced inside the chicken’s reproductive organs, as long as it’s free from infection the inside of the egg shouldn’t have any bacteria in it. It passes through part of the chicken’s digestive tract when the chicken lays them, but there is a protective layer that protects them from bacteria which gets washed off in the US. This is why you’re supposed to refrigerate eggs in the US, but it’s safe to leave on the counter in Europe. There is a strain of salmonella that has learned to infect the reproductive system of chickens so it is still possible to get salmonella from raw eggs even if the shell isn’t contaminated.