Monday, October 26, 2015

Pasteurized Eggs: Where to Buy Them, How Do They Taste?

Davidson’s Safest Choice pasteurized eggs - Photo courtesy Davidson’s Safest Choice
Photo courtesy Davidson’s Safest Choice Rating

Pasteurized eggs are a great product for anyone who's got special concerns about food safety. But not every grocery store carries them.

A company called Safest Choice sells pasteurized eggs in grocery stores across the country, and they have a store locator to help you find stores in your area that carry them.

I got my hands on some and tried them out. The flavor and texture do leave something to be desired, especially for preparing basic egg dishes like omelets or scrambled eggs.

Still, pasteurized eggs provide peace of mind when it comes to food safety, particularly when preparing recipes that call for uncooked eggs. And if you're cooking for young kids, pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system, the safety you get with using pasteurized eggs might be worth the flavor trade-off.

All things considered, I give them five stars for safety and peace of mind, and three stars for flavor — four stars overall.

Pasteurized Eggs: Pros & Cons

Eggs carry salmonella, which is the leading cause of food poisoning in the United States. Cooking kills the salmonella bacteria, but that still leaves two problems.

One, some recipes, like eggnog, spaghetti carbonara and Caesar salad dressing, call for uncooked eggs.

And two, even when preparing cooked eggs, you run the risk of cross-contamination. A little speck of raw egg on your hands or cutting board can be transferred to something else and ultimately make someone sick.

The solution is to use pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs are gently heated in their shells, just enough to kill the bacteria but not enough to actually cook the egg, making them safe to use in any recipe that calls for uncooked or partially cooked eggs.

Note that poached eggs and eggs prepared over-easy or sunnyside-up aren't fully cooked.

Moreover, because of cross-contamination risk, if you're cooking for someone in one of the categories mentioned above, you might want to use pasteurized eggs anyway.

Safest Choice Pasteurized Eggs

That's where Safest Choice eggs come in.

For a long time, the only pasteurized egg products that were available to consumers were liquid eggs or liquid egg whites. It was difficult, if not impossible, to find pasteurized shell eggs in a normal grocery store.

And while Safest Choice eggs aren't available everywhere, they are getting their products into more and more stores across the country. And they'll send you some coupons if you fill out a survey on their web site. (I never actually got my coupons, so I can't totally vouch for that, but they say they'll send you some.)

In any case, if you're into food safety, Safest Choice seems to be a company that genuinely shares your concerns.

That's the good news.

The slightly less-than-amazing news is that the eggs don't taste that great. Or rather, they taste okay, if a little bit flat or bland. That eggy flavor you want from an egg was a little thinned-out somehow. Maybe you wouldn't notice the difference. A little salt will help, in any case.

The bigger issue to me was one of texture. "Mushy" is not a nice word to use for describing eggs, but it's the word that comes to mind. The eggs just weren't as firm as regular fresh eggs — they definitely lacked some of that "bite" you expect from a properly cooked, fluffy scrambled egg.

Another problem is that pasteurized eggs are terrible for preparations where you want to whip the egg whites to get stiff peaks. The pasteurization process affects the ability of the proteins in the eggs to get firm. Unfortunately, that's just the reality of pasteurized eggs.

The obvious solution: use regular eggs for cooked egg recipes, and use pasteurized eggs for sauces and other recipes that call for raw eggs. That's unless you're cooking for someone in one of those high-risk groups I talked about before, in which case, safety trumps flavor.

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