Eggs impart several key nutrients in the form of protein, fats, minerals (such as zinc and selenium) and vitamins A, D and some B vitamins, which make it a necessary food item during pregnancy. Eggs during pregnancy is undoubtedly one of the most nutritious foods and is healthy for the pregnant woman but safety should not be overlooked.
Steps to ensure Egg Safety
- Salmonella bacterium can grow inside fresh unbroken eggs. Most eggs are contaminated before the shells form so washing alone (the exterior) will not guarantee safety. Eggs come washed anyway.
- Always use eggs before the sell-by-date marked on the carton. Eggs stay fresh for about 3-5 weeks in the refrigerator i.e. if you have not crossed the expiry date. Store eggs properly in the fridge, ideally not in the egg shelf on the fridge door since there is too much temperature fluctuation. It is best to store them in the original carton you bought them in.
- Eggs are porous, another reason why they should be stored in egg cartons so that other odors do not penetrate the eggs.
- A health egg when cracked will have no foul smell, the egg white is gel- like, opaque and not watery, and a healthy egg yolk is firm and not runny.
- Do not leave cooked eggs, even hard boiled ones, at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. It is best to eat them immediately after cooking. Hard boiled eggs (unpeeled) can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.
- Don't use eggs that are cracked even if it cracks on your way home. Bacteria enter easily and quickly.
- Thorough cooking destroys salmonella i.e. eggs should be cooked until both the yellow and whites are firm and not runny.
- Avoid using recipes in which eggs remain raw or are only partially cooked. For instance do not use raw eggs in salad dressings, sauces or whipped up desserts such as mousse.
- Avoid homemade foods that contain raw or partially cooked eggs like mayonnaise, cake batter, eggnog etc. The commercial versions e.g. bought mayonnaise are safer in comparison because of the pasteurized eggs used (check the label to confirm). If you need to make something that requires raw eggs use pasteurized egg products available in supermarkets in place of raw eggs. Pasteurization is a process which heats the eggs and kills the bacteria
- Free range, organic, omega 3 enriched eggs are the best choice if your budget allows you. They are a safer bet since the eggs come from animals that are not treated with growth hormones or antibiotics.
- Egg safety, not with regards to cholesterol but because of the bacteria salmonella, is a major concern. Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning that is passed on through contaminated eggs and poultry. This applies to all egg types, be it duck, quail, or chicken. It is best to avoid salmonella to maintain good health and any form of stress to your unborn baby.
- Salmonella rarely causes damage to fetus as it the bacterium does not usually cross the placenta but it is a very unpleasant experience for the mother.
- Salmonella symptoms in the mother include vomiting, diarrhea, high fevers and dehydration. If you have salmonella drink lots of liquids to replace lost fluids.