Lansing company keeps holiday
Source of Article: http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2008/12/01/news/top_news/doca89752e613aafb6b86257511008302f4.txt
Medill News Service | Monday, December 01, 2008 | No comments
hoping to ring in the season with a cup of traditional eggnog or a spoonful
of Christmas cookie dough often have had to balance fears that raw eggs could
transform a night of celebration into hours of sickness from salmonella
But a Lansing
company is helping to change all that.
National Pasteurized Eggs Inc. produces about a million pasteurized eggs each
day, which are shipped out to customers across North
America. The patented process, one of the first for egg
pasteurization, kills all of the bacteria, including salmonella.
"You can crack the (pasteurized) eggs and eat them raw like Rocky,"
without worrying about getting sick, said Gregory M. West, president of the
company. "Most people would never even think of drinking raw milk as their
standard because of the risk."
About one in 10,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella, West said, pointing
out that this is roughly the same number of eggs on display at a major
Typically, 40,000 cases of salmonella poisoning are reported in the United States
each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but
the actual number may be more than 30 times greater since mild cases aren't
diagnosed or reported. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps
lasting four to seven days.
Sometimes, though, the infection can spread from the intestines to the blood
stream and into other parts of the body, possibly causing death, according to
the CDC, which cautions that the elderly, infants and people with impaired
immune systems are more likely to see these severe effects. About 400 people
die each year from the salmonella infection.
Contaminated eggs are the leading cause of salmonella, which is the top cause
for food-borne illness, West said, making pasteurized eggs the logical choice
"It's like an air bag in the car," said Matthew Botos,
the former director of the Illinois
Center for Food Safety
and Technology and a food safety consultant. "Everybody should wear a
seat belt, but you feel much safer when you have an airbag."
This "air bag" of egg safety was first developed in 1985, following
a series of salmonella outbreaks. Today, the eggs are produced with the brand
name Davidson's Safest Choice and distributed across the United States, Mexico
with more international growth planned for the future.
The process includes an hour spent in a hot water bath, just warm enough to
kill the bacteria without cooking the eggs. "It's like a giant
Jacuzzi," West said. "You have a very efficient, more
cost-effective method of pasteurizing eggs, giving us the opportunity to
pasteurize a lot more eggs than otherwise could have been expected."
The eggs typically are marked up in price by 25 percent to 50 percent in the
marketplace, but West said they're worth the splurge, even in tough economic
"You can't take food safety away as your answer to cost savings,"
West said. "If you're going to be in the food business, food safety
needs to be your priority in recessionary times and in good times. You will
have bad times if you have a food-borne illness."