Is It Safe To Eat Runny Egg Yolk?

Posted on Sep 4 2009 - 1:45pm by Christine
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One question we are sometimes asked is whether or not it is safe to serve runny egg yolk to babies. Interestingly, most of these queries originate from the UK – whether that’s because of the heightened awareness of the risk from eggs following the huge controversy in the UK back in the 80’s – or simply because soft boiled eggs are more popular in the UK – we’re not sure!

But it’s an important question that applies to the cooking of eggs wherever you are in the world – particularly when those eggs are intended for your baby.

Is it safe to eat runny egg yolk?

Eggs and Salmonella – what’s the risk?

A popular misconception about eggs is that they are sterile inside, as long as their shells are intact. This is incorrect, however, in that perfectly whole, uncracked eggs may still contain the bacteria Salmonella enteritidis.

This is because laying hens may be infected by the bacteria at farms, passing it on via their ovaries to their eggs before the shells are even formed. The bacteria may then grow within the eggs, particularly if they are stored unrefrigerated.

In the US, regulations were put in place in 2009 to combat the problem at source by controlling the bacteria on egg-producing farms.

In the UK, various measures have been taken to ensure the safety of eggs – those eggs with the British Lion mark, for example, come from pullets who have been vaccinated against Salmonella enteritidis.

Nevertheless, there are still no guarantees that ANY eggs are completely free from the bacteria.

The risk of food poisoning from eggs is relatively low – but the problem is that the illness caused by Salmonella infection can be very severe – particularly for babies.

So how can Salmonella infection from eggs be avoided?

The Salmonella enteritidis bacteria can be destroyed by THOROUGHLY cooking the eggs, until both the whites and the yolks are firm. The yolks in soft boiled eggs are NOT cooked – they are simply warmed up!

So – back to the original question –  “Is it safe to eat runny egg yolk?”

Sadly – and we say that because we are BIG lovers of lightly cooked eggs ourselves – runny egg yolks are NOT safe for babies or young children.

What about organic eggs?

Whilst the risk of Salmonella poisoning from organic eggs is considered to be lower, there is no research available to guarantee that organic eggs are 100% Salmonella free.

So even organic eggs should be cooked until firm before serving to your baby.

It’s worth noting, though, that organic eggs are FAR superior in taste to their factory-farmed counterparts – and this interesting article from Mother Earth explains how and why  they are also more nutritious.

Egg baby food safety tips

  • Always buy your eggs from a refrigerator, so that you know they have been held at the correct temperature.
  • Open the box before you buy them to make sure none are cracked.
  • Transfer the eggs to your fridge as soon as you get home – and if you do subsequently discover that any of the eggs are cracked, throw them away.
  • It may sound strange, but it’s a good idea to pour boiling water over your eggs before you cook them – this destroys any potential contaminants that may be lurking on the shell.

For more information about serving eggs to your little one, read our article…

When can my baby eat eggs?

And for some tasty homemade dishes for baby…

Try our egg baby food recipes

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