Are raw eggs safe to eat?

January 20, 2010 · 54 comments

raw egg

Be sure to check out the posts below for more about why eggs are SO good for us.  Also, before reading about whether or not it’s safe to eat raw eggs, first you probably wonder why you might consider that in the first place?  The answer is the same reason raw milk is so good for us and why we shouldn’t cook the heck out of all our other foods, either:  for more enzymes (for optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients) and more nutrition in general.  Cooking always reduces nutrients, no matter what it is.  And by the way, I’m not talking about eating them plain, although some might want to (not me!), I’m talking about eating them in something, like smoothies, real food protein shakes, homemade mayo, homemade ice cream or egg nog. (Maybe in cookie dough now and then…? Mmmmm)

Wondering about the cholesterol in eggs?

Read more here about healthy fats and the big cholesterol MYTH.

Disclaimer:

Keep in mind that I wouldn’t give my family raw eggs unless I knew they were from healthy pastured chickens.  As with any raw food, there is always a very small risk (more on that below), but the 100% chance of getting more life-giving and healing nutrients is worth it to us.  I’ll say this again, too:  don’t blindly follow what you read here or anywhere else.  Look into this yourself and see what you find.  :)

If you need raw eggs for mayo or something and you can’t find a good source for healthy eggs, see this post from Hallee about how to pasteurize an egg.

So is it safe to eat raw eggs?

Today I’m sharing an excerpt with you from a post by Scott Kustes on the safety of eating raw eggs:

Salmonella Dangers?

According to most media reports, eating your eggs anything short of completely dried out and charred is tantamount to committing suicide. The little bug known as Salmonella might just take your life if you don’t thoroughly cook every bite of egg you take. This over-hyping from the media has ruined everything from Caesar dressing to the Whiskey Sour.

The reality is that there is a 1-in-20,000 to 1-in-30,000 chance that any given conventional egg will be contaminated with Salmonella. You have a 1-in-1,000 chance of dying of accidental drowning and a 1-in-6500 chance of dying from a slip and fall. And since few cases of Salmonella actually involve death, I think this is a pretty unimportant concern. Unfortunately, we don’t have statistics on pastured or organic eggs, but I’m betting it’s lower since healthy chickens and healthy conditions are less likely to harbor the Salmonella bacteria.

What About Raw Egg Whites?

Raw egg whites contain an enzyme called avidin that acts as an anti-nutrient to bind biotin in the yolk. Also known as vitamin B7, biotin is instrumental in cell growth and the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids, as well as blood sugar maintenance. Just like with most vitamins, it’s a bad idea to reduce their availability to the body.

If you’re going to eat your eggs raw, I’d advise eating the yolk without the white. The yolk contains all of the nutrition anyway, while the white contains the avidin. In fact, Chris Masterjohn questions whether it’s advisable to consume any egg whites at all. As he points out, some avidin remains even after cooking.

eat raw eggs Read Scott’s whole post on eggs.

I’m the first one to trust anything Chris Masterjohn says, and he’s much smarter than I am, but personally I’ll keep eating gently cooked eggs with both the white and the yolk.  This is based only on common sense:  that’s how they come in nature.  (Also read this excerpt from Nina Planck about egg whites and skim milk.)  I have always heard, however, that you shouldn’t eat raw egg whites, and now I know why!  So when making smoothies, real food protein shakes, homemade mayo, ice cream or egg nog, I’ll continue to use just the raw egg yolks.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Does the thought of eating raw eggs gross you out?  Is it because your Mom always said not to?

RFWnew_edited-4

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

  • Share this article


  • Stay Connected!

  • Get new articles and recipes, plus help getting and keeping your family on real food! Also coupons/discounts, and STAY signed up to be automatically entered in gift card giveaways!

  • { 44 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 My Petite Chefs January 20, 2010 at 12:33 am

    it does gross me out a bit. I could handle it being in other foods-but it is hard not to think about eating it by it’s self and the “goopiness” of that thought sounds terrible. :)

    -jen

    Reply

    2 Melissa @CelluliteInvestigation January 20, 2010 at 6:54 am

    You can really tell the difference between a farm fresh egg from pastured chickens and the store-bought kind. I was so surprised when I first cracked an egg in Tunisia and it came out with a bright orange yolk –it tasted so cheesy without even adding any cheese! I think if we had this image in mind, instead of the goopy white yolks most of us are used to from the States, we might not be so grossed out by the idea of eating them raw.

    Reply

    3 Tina January 20, 2010 at 7:47 am

    I am not opposed to eating raw eggs in food, as Kelly describes. However, I question some of the comments by the quoted author. Many organic eggs are raised the same way as conventional eggs, so the cramped conditions of the chickens could still promote bacteria. Also, pastured chickens that have a small pasture and lay their eggs in droppings all of the time could still be infected. So I would alter the recommendations to say that I’d only consume raw eggs that I’d either raised myself or been to the farm.

    Reply

    4 Jenny January 20, 2010 at 8:18 am

    We enjoy raw egg quite a bit – though we never eat the white raw due to the avidin. We also store our eggs at (gasp!) room temperature! I really like it in mayonnaise, ice cream and smoothies. Great ways to eat raw yolk without trying to gulp them down straight.

    Reply

    5 Ellen@BodyEarth January 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

    My mother often used to add raw eggs to milkshakes when I was little. (We didn’t know about the egg whites and avidin.)
    We have almost decided to raise our own chickens starting this spring. Being able to eat the raw egg yolks could be the deciding factor! I can’t wait to make homemade mayonnaise; it’s so hard to find healthy mayo in the store — even the Organic Trader Joe’s mayo contains soybean oil.

    Reply

    6 Kate January 20, 2010 at 8:58 am

    I eat raw eggs in stuff, like ice cream, but not by themselves. It doesn’t really bother me, I just don’t do it otherwise.

    Reply

    7 Chris @ Natural Health Goodies January 20, 2010 at 9:23 am

    So it IS ok to eat raw cookie dough again!!! Yipeeee. :) It is so interesting to see the battle with eggs continue – first eggs are healthy – then they aren’t – then the yolks are bad – and now the yolks are good.

    I grew up eating sunny side up eggs with the yolks being only lightly cooked and I’m still alive today – at least I think I am. Not to mention all that cookie dough! So it is good to hear even with “normal” eggs salmonella is a little over hyped. Plus I would have to agree if you eat organic free range eggs they must be better anyway.

    Reply

    8 kara bagley January 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Not everything is less nutritious when cooked. Sally Fallon talks a lot about cooking grains way longer than they need to be to increase nutrition.

    Reply

    9 Mary January 20, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I eat a raw egg yoke along with a cup of raw milk every morning. Its a 1-2 punch of nutrition and gives me an instant burst of energy- like I swallowed a mini-sun:) Does a body good!

    Reply

    10 Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE January 20, 2010 at 10:35 am

    UPDATE: I was late getting Real Food Wednesday up (needy toddler last night and then I overslept). It’s live now — go and add your links! http://ow.ly/YB4Q

    Great post, Kelly! It doesn’t gross me out at all. I grew up loving runny eggs.

    I always cook scrambled eggs for my daughter and it makes me realize I need to make her runny eggs like my mom used to — at least some of the time — so she gets used to it. I really think exposure is the key to being open to new foods.

    @Mary – I love your idea of eating a raw egg yolk in milk. I’ve been putting a raw egg yolk in my toddler’s chocolate colostrum. Esp. when she’s picky and not eating her meals — and when she’s under the weather. She can’t taste it at all and I feel good knowing she’s getting some solid nutrition.

    Reply

    11 Real Food Mama January 20, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Fascinating info about the raw whites! I find it really interesting that most of the recipes I have requiring raw eggs really only USE the yolk – mayo and ice cream being the best examples and I have seen egg nog go both ways.

    I certainly love to use raw eggs and this definitely doesn’t deter me! I’m with you – the yolk is the best part anyway :)

    – RFM

    Reply

    12 Amanda @ The Rebuild Blog January 20, 2010 at 10:45 am

    We produce our own eggs and do eat them raw or lightly cooked at times. I don’t tend to eat eggs we buy raw unless of course I am gravely tempted (cookie dough). When you produce your own eggs, you’re exposed to the salmonella anyway whenever you’re tending then hens. I wrote a bit about it here:
    Why I don’t worry about raw eggs. If you want to see why eggs will always pose some small risk, check out “why I do worry about raw eggs.” LOL

    Really, I don’t “worry” about it one way or another. I just make my decision and move on.

    Amanda

    Reply

    13 Soli January 20, 2010 at 10:50 am

    This reminds me of a treat my mom told me about from her youth growing up in Sweden. She and I used to do this when I was young but it’s been a long time, maybe now I can get her into it again.

    Take one egg yolk, beat with a small amount of sugar, and drink. That’s it. Now that we have pastured eggs I really want to dig in!

    Reply

    14 jenna of foodwithkidappeal January 20, 2010 at 10:56 am

    i always learn something new here, the avidin link i hadn’t heard of. i don’t currently eat any raw eggs, but love love love soft cooked yolks and have been serving soft boiled eggs, poached eggs, and eggs over easy to my boys since they were babies. we all love egg juice soaked in toast, on top of greens, to dip bacon in! this is inspiring me to make mayo from scratch, i bet it tastes amazing.

    Reply

    15 Trish January 20, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I am reading this while drinking my smoothie which includes two raw egg yolks, from pastured eggs we get from a friends’ farm. :) I have avoided the raw whites for a while now because I had heard about the avidin. My kids LOVE sunny side up eggs with a runny yolk – makes me so happy!

    Reply

    16 Melanie January 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I ate raw eggs all the time in cookie dough as a kid – Mom not only didn’t stop me, but encouraged it. As an adult, I didn’t eat raw eggs until I went to Japan, where it’s traditional to dip sukiyaki in a raw beaten egg. It was tasty, so I keep doing it. Otherwise, I generally only eat raw or lightly cooked yolks in Hollandaise sauce or poached/sunny side up eggs. And I never really liked the whites, so I usually avoid them anyway, and leave them on the plate. Now I don’t feel quite so bad about that!

    Reply

    17 Rachel January 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    @Soli: I’ve heard of traditional Spanish families giving their children “omelets” the same way–just raw egg yolk and a pinch of sugar.
    The more I cook, the more I appreciate raw and runny egg yolks! Yum.

    Reply

    18 Rachel January 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I always enjoy a post workout smoothie made from raw milk, yogurt, a raw egg yolk and some berries. It’s also a great breakfast on the go.

    Reply

    19 Krissy January 20, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I sometimes eat a raw egg smoothie (Nutiva Hemp Shake, 3 raw eggs, and coconut milk). You can not even tell that they are in there. It tastes delicious and gives you a real energy boost. I don’t worry about the avadin and just figure it’s how nature intended. I never would have even considered trying them until seeing Mercola do a few articles on how you couldn’t even tell they were in your smoothie. I’m glad I tried it! Some days this is a quick way to get my breakfast in and it is great for hotel breakfast options when traveling as well (that is if you have a refrigerator and can bring stuff from home or pruchase at a health food store where your staying).

    Reply

    20 The Local Cook January 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Like the others, I can’t imagine wanting to eat them on their own, but it wouldn’t bother me IN things.

    Reply

    21 Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life January 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Raw eggs are definitely on my list of top nourishing foods. The fact that we don’t eat raw liver is just another important reason to eat raw yolks instead. Fortunately my kids love fried eggs with an uncooked yolk, so we eat those regularly. I also “sneak” raw yolks into yogurt, smoothies and peanut butter when I can.

    Reply

    22 Grok January 20, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I love raw eggs, but mostly because of the yolk. I go through about 5 dozen a week.

    Lately, I’ve been eating mostly raw yolks and save/put the whites for cooked dishes. I hate wasting the whites and like the thought of still keeping the egg a whole food. I feel like I’m working the system this way. LOL!

    Reply

    23 Paula January 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I drink the following frequently.
    1 cup of raw milk
    2 egg yolks
    1 banana
    pinch of cinnimon
    1 tbls of either raw cream or raw coconut oil
    Blend and enjoy!
    If you want to kick it up a bit, add 1 tsp of cocoa and a drizzle of maple syrup or raw honey.

    Reply

    24 Lori @encouragingnourishment.wordpress.com January 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I chuckled when I read “healthy pastured chickens.” I call them “happy chickens.” Great article.

    Reply

    25 Susanna January 23, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    So if I make a recipe that calls for egg yolks (like ice cream, etc.), should I throw out the egg whites instead of saving them to add to scrambled eggs or oatmeal?

    Reply

    26 Melissa June 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I use them to pump up the protein in pancakes, waffles, muffins…. I also am looking into Angel Food Cupcakes that uses 5-6whites/batch! Would be great with some berries for summer ☼

    Reply

    27 KitchenKop January 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    I’d save them to cook or bake with. :)

    Reply

    28 Ellie January 25, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I was severely underweight when I was growing up and at a physician’s suggestion my mom gave me a milkshake along with my breakfast every morning for years through my teens. She always put in a raw egg! I can’t remember ever getting sick from it, and I really enjoyed the taste. So much that when I had a milkshake without an egg, it just did not taste right!

    And although I can make a Caesar salad with yogurt instead of raw egg, the salad is tangy and better with the raw egg. But perhaps I, too, will use only the yolk from now on. It would probably make the dressing creamier.

    Reply

    29 Ellie January 25, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Oh, and one more note: The eggs from my neighbor’s chickens are that dark golden/orange described by Melissa. And Kelly’s comment is important: you must know where these eggs come from. Just buying “free-roaming organic” eggs at a supermarket is no guarantee of animal’s health. I see the chickens almost daily and I know how they are kept and what they eat. When they are not laying, and we have to get eggs from the store, we don’t eat them raw!

    Reply

    30 Jenna @ Newlyweds January 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Eating raw eggs don’t bother me at all, I always eat my eggs over easy (runny yolk) and my absolute favorite ice cream contains raw eggs. But I am glad to hear that there really is no risk.

    Reply

    31 Rachel R. February 2, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I drink raw milk, but I’m still paranoid about eating raw eggs. For one thing, we don’t have ready access to good quality eggs (read: cannot possibly afford to spend $4/dozen on eggs). But I’m pretty sure some friends of ours with a small flock of chickens had salmonella in their flock when I was younger. And I don’t think that Mr Kustes’ number comparisons really equate. No, we’re probably not talking about death. But neither are we talking about eating a single egg. If the chances of an egg’s being contaminated are 1 in 20,000 and you eat 1,000 eggs, that’s a lot more chance of eating a contaminated egg than 1 in 20,000.

    Reply

    32 Anjanette February 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for this, “This is based only on common sense: that

    Reply

    33 Sue July 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I start with almond milk and thenI love packing baby spinach in my smoothies. You can’t even taste it. Sometimes I add avocado which makes it creamier. My current fave thing to add is (lots) watermelon. Then, add all the other goodies like EFA oils, eggs, yogurt, coconut oil ( I love that it gets firm and the blend leaves it in tiny little chips) Sometimes, I add bananas, blueberries and peaches, mango, etc. but it is just so good without.

    Reply

    34 Shalom January 13, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Ok, raw whites have avidin, my question: Is this true for pastured eggs? If the nutrition in yolks is different, couldn’t the nutrition in whites be different too? In nature various animals love to eat raw eggs. Common sense says, either they are immune to the effects of avidin or nature’s eggs don’t have the same effect. Have any studies been done on pastured eggs in this area?

    Reply

    35 KitchenKop January 13, 2011 at 7:23 am

    What a great question! I have no idea, but I’d love to know. :)

    Reply

    36 Kelly @ The Nourishing Home March 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I so appreciate this post! In fact, I have referred to it in my smoothie recipe post, because you do such a great job in explaining why raw eggs from healthy pastured chickens are not only safe, they are extremely nutritious! Here’s my smoothie post that refers to your article. Thanks as always for your wonderful wealth of wisdom! Blessings, Kelly http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=202579416423259

    Reply

    37 Puja Shastri July 9, 2011 at 2:49 am

    I appeciate the information given above. I never had any problems in having whole raw egg in the morning since I watched Rocky Balboa [lol] but now I’m concerned whether I should have whole raw egg or only the egg yolk???

    Reply

    38 Puja Shastri July 9, 2011 at 2:51 am

    And I also wanted to ask that is it better to have it cooked or raw?

    Reply

    39 KitchenKop July 12, 2011 at 12:37 am

    If you’re eating your eggs raw, first of all, make sure they come from a safe, trusted source where they raise pastured hens. Also, yes, I’d say only eat the raw yolk. If you’re cooking your eggs, then go ahead and eat the yolk and white together. :)

    Reply

    40 Pete August 18, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for the excellent and very informative post!

    Having said that, I just had a few issues that I thought were misleading in your article. (N.B. I’m a scientist, so I am likely to be overly pedantic!) You mention the chance of an egg having salmonella, which does seem low. However, it’s not really fair to emphasise this chance by comparing it to the “chance of dying of accidental drowning” or the “chance of dying from a slip and fall”; these are not risks that are necessarily tied to frequent discrete events. That is, the risk of contracting salmonella from an egg occurs each time you eat an egg. How often do you calculate the risk of the other two events? Is that every minute? Every second? Every year? Presumably the “risk” of death in these cases is calculated each time you swim, or each time you fall. Given that I fall once every 5 years or so, and I eat a raw egg every week, it’s not really a fair comparison. Also the latter is based on a conscious decision that I make.

    Also, you justify eating raw eggs “based only on common sense: that’s how they come in nature.” There are countless natural toxins in the world (e.g. cyanide), so this doesn’t really work either.

    Cheers,
    Pete.

    Reply

    41 Dave December 30, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Pete, couldn’t agree more, also thought it was silly to write that the ‘other side’ wants everyone to eat only burnt, dried out eggs. The nutritional value doesn’t seem to change a lot from raw to properly cooked , I believe the current scientific consensus for food safety is 160 degrees F. People calm down a little, common sense can prevail.

    Reply

    42 Sarah Morrow September 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Found your website online and thought I’d post. I’ve been eating raw eggs for several years now. My favorite way these days is to just eat the yolks, which I put (whole) in a glass of chilled raw organic jersey milk. Then drink it down like the actor in Rocky. Don’t even stir the yolks. (There’s no “slimey” eggy texture at all if you remove the white first.) Good times!

    I’ve never gotten sick from eating or drinking a raw egg and don’t expect to. Of course there’s a chance, but I’ll risk it. Like you say, every activity, even staying home hiding in your house with the doors locked, has risks.

    Two things to be cautious of: 1) like you say, only use pastured eggs from a farmer you can trust. I emphasize the trust part. I bought some “pastured eggs” at a local farmers’s market a couple of weeks ago which the person selling them said were pastured, brought them home and found that they had thin shells, and weak, runny, pasty yellow-white yolks that broke easily. Real pastured eggs, in my experience, have strong shells and vibrant yellow-orange yolks. The experience has made me cautious about buying eggs from unfamiliar sources in the future. They cost a lot, making me suspect that this person had bought some Safeway eggs for a buck a carton and was selling them for $8, making a $7 profit, by claiming they were pastured.

    Reply

    43 DavetteB November 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Egg nog traditionally made with raw eggs has long been given to children and elderly that needed extra calories and nutrition due to illness. It is like custard before you bake it ;o) Most kids love it; just watch your sweetener.

    Reply

    44 JMK March 20, 2012 at 11:43 am

    A lot of people get chickens but do not read up on how to raise them. Chickens get worms and have to be wormed twice a year. I won’t buy farm eggs from people who have signs up along the road saying they have free roaming chickens eggs.

    Reply

    Please note this paid endorsement disclosure (the FTC is making me put this here): Is everything always breaking around your house, too? Well the same thing happens on a website. A lot. Sooooo... "In order to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of renumeration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog or social media posts." This includes Amazon affiliate links either here or on social media. It doesn't earn much, but it's better than nothing, and cost is the exact same for you either way. Thanks for your support!

    Also a disclaimer: The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure or prevent any disease. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Click here to read more of this exciting information: Icky Small Print Stuff: privacy policy, copyright, disclaimers, terms and conditions.



    Leave a Comment

    { 10 trackbacks }

    Previous post:

    Next post:

    Protect your files with Carbonite Online Backup Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community