An important safety aspect associated with eggs is their contamination with Salmonella, and in particular, trans-ovarial contamination with Salmonella Enteritidis. The estimated rate of transovarian contamination of eggs with this pathogen in the United States is one in 20,000 eggs. During 1985 1998, raw or undercooked shell eggs were reportedly responsible for 279 out of 360 (82%) Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks with a confirmed source (http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fs-eggs3.html-authors). Other pathogens that have been recovered from egg shells include species of Campylobacter, Listeria, and Aeromo-nas (http://apresslp.gvpi.net/apfmicro/lpext.dll7f = templa tes&fn=main-hit-h.htm&2.0).
The presence of chemical residues is also a safety concern in eggs as veterinary drugs and growth promoters are administered to birds to prevent disease and enhance their growth. A residue control program (http://www.fsis. usda.gov/0PHS/blue2000/) is used by regulatory agencies in the United States to prevent eggs with illegal levels of chemical residues from entering the food chain.
Although not regarded as a safety aspect per se, it is worth mentioning the cholesterol content of egg yolks (200 250 mg per egg), as it is a major health concern due to its link to the development of coronary heart disease. There have been countless efforts to reduce the cholesterol content of whole eggs through genetic selection and nutritional and pharmacological manipulation, with minimal success. Feeding of hens with high levels of a variety of grains reportedly can reduce the cholesterol concentration by 15 to 20%. Higher reductions can be achieved through the use of cholesterol synthesis blocking agents. These blocking agents, however, may have negative side effects, such as a reduction or complete termination of egg production.
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