Cooked all the way through, I hope. I’m certain that you heard about the national egg recall this month. I’ll try to put it in perspective. Epidemiologists across the country and at the CDC found a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella that has made a few hundred people sick. The investigation found that people that ate raw or undercooked eggs were at most risk. A trace back to the source found that eggs produced by Wright County Egg and it “voluntarily” recalled about 400 million shell eggs. The FDA and state agriculture departments have been monitoring the recall and auditing retail stores, wholesalers and distributors to make sure the recalled shell eggs are being removed from the market. Many of the recalled eggs are being sent to facilities to be pasteurized (which will destroy the bacteria). By the way, when eggs get contaminated like this it’s usually because rats (who often carry salmonella) get into the chicken feed.
Eggs with clean, uncracked shells occasionally contain Salmonella. That’s why we always recommend that people cook their eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs are OK as long as they’re not runny. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F. If you still want to eat foods that call for raw or undercooked eggs (like Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream), you should buy pasteurized egg products (they’re usually in cartons). AZ restaurants that serve recipes that contain raw or undercooked eggs are required to let you know that the food can make you sick.
You may hear that this event provides evidence that the nation’s food safety and epidemiology network is inadequate. I would say quite the opposite. The very fact that the public health system identified the outbreak and source shows that epidemiology works. Before we had a good public health network, including solid laboratories, people just got sick from something, nobody noticed, the food was never identified and nothing was done. To be sure, the farmer should have kept the chicken feed clean and prevented this, but that doesn’t mean the network is bad.