So, a handful of people have gotten sick recently from eating salmonella-contaminated eggs from a farm in North Carolina. Salmonella, of course, can be a serious infection and is certainly not one even a healthy person wants to encounter. But who is writing the advice we are being given on how to handle these eggs should we be unfortunate enough to find them in our refrigerator?

Do not eat, serve, or sell these eggs; throw them away or return them for a refund, and be sure to disinfect the shelf on which they were stored.

Really? That kind of overreaction can only have been designed by hyper-sensitive doctors under the advice of their lawyers and malpractice-insurance companies. Why not just hard-boil the eggs? If you cook them until the white and yolk are both hard, you've killed the salmonella bacteria. Maybe I'd give them a couple of extra minutes, just because I can be a little paranoid that way.

And unless you're crazy enough to take your eggs out of the handy carton they come in and store them directly on your refrigerator shelf, I can't imagine why a shelf would need to be especially sanitized.

But hey, what do I know? I'm not a doctor, a biologist, a lawyer, an insurance company executive, or even a helicopter grandparent, so don't take this as advice.

Take it as yet another sign that common sense has been thrown out the window, and scare tactics rule the day—making us more and more inclined to miss the signal of an important warning amidst the noise of constant overreaction. Aesop warned over 2500 years ago of the dangers of crying "wolf."

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 8:01 am | Edit
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I understand the bit about crying wolf but there's a wise old saying that it's better to be safe than sorry. How many eggs does the average fridge have in it? Probably less than five dollars worth. I assume they weren't talking about everyone's eggs everywhere so why not toss the targeted eggs and avoid all risk? I also expect many people do take their eggs out of the cartons since many fridges have little egg holders on the door. In any event the few minutes it takes to disinfect a shelf won't hurt. Is it the advice giver who is overreacting?

Posted by Don Sigwalt on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 9:51 am

Yes, I believe the advice-givers are overreacting, just as newscasters do when they hyperventilate during 24/7 hurricane coverage, and act like it's the end of the world when New Hampshire is hit by what they've always called a "normal winter storm." And when people are afraid to let their children walk to school, or to leave 12-year-olds alone in the house. Twelve! The age at which David Farragut commanded his first ship! "Better safe than sorry" is why I might boil the eggs a couple of extra minutes, even though I think it unnecessary, but in general we have forgotten what a risk/benefit analysis is, and the desire to eliminate all risk from life is crippling us. And our children.

Food waste is a terrible problem; I don't see why food should be thrown away if there's a way to use it safely. But by all means, toss your eggs if you are at all worried. Better yet, let's work on the other end of the production line, and support small, clean chicken farms.

Do you take your eggs out of the carton? I've always thought egg holders in a refrigerator a waste of space.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 10:10 am

I would put half your eggs in the little egg holders and leave the rest in the cartons. It reduces the surface you need to disinfect while still avoiding having to pull out a box and open it when you want to check how many eggs you still have. The other half of the egg carton can be used for sprouting seeds, and one of the two little egg holders can be removed to free up more space in that overstuffed tiny fridge. But most importantly, it's simply never a good idea to have all your eggs in one basket.

Posted by Stephan on Monday, May 14, 2018 at 5:29 pm

I will also grant that this one issue isn't all that important, by itself. It's as part of a widespread overall pattern that it matters.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 6:36 am

Stephan: :)

Or, you could be Swiss, and keep your eggs on the counter, saving precious refrigerator space. What the CDC would say to that I leave up to your imagination. All I know is that Swiss eggs taste better than American eggs—and at that price, they ought to.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 6:39 am

When I was growing up, eggs and butter were always left on the counter. We still leave them both on the counter when we are at the island. (Partly because fridge space is at a premium there). At home, the butter stays on the counter (I like it spreadable) and the eggs go in the fridge (maybe because counter space is at a premium at home).

We have never had a problem with eggs or butter going bad.

Here is an interesting article:

Posted by dstb on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 7:27 am

That's a good article. It reminds me of something I read—in one of Joel Salatin's books I believe it was—about unwashed eggs being considered in the U.S. to be too dangerous to sell, whereas in France it's the eggs that have been washed that are considered too dangerous to sell.

The British idea of vaccinating chickens so they don't pass on salmonella sounds like something we should consider.

Posted by SursumCorda on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 7:58 am

I'd have to look into the vaccination for chickens, but I wonder if it is the best idea. It may not be the same thing, but my guess is that Salatin doesn't just give antibiotics to his animals as a matter of course.

Posted by dstb on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at 8:46 am
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