I Had No Idea

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Lulu came home from school today talking about her cooking class and that she had learned about pasteurized eggs. I thought that she meant pasteurized egg product (you know, the stuff that comes in those little cartons and talks about ‘beating eggs’) but she corrected me and said no, eggs in a shell that are pasteurized.

So I did a google search and sure enough. I found a website that was promoting their pasteurized shell eggs which says their“pasteurized shell eggs have eliminated the risk and dangers of egg-borne illness caused by salmonella bacteria”. I was surprised and curious. They had a page on how they pasteurized those shell eggs.

  • How We Do It
    The National Pasteurized Eggs process starts with the arrival of clean, farm-fresh eggs on sanitized plastic flats from our pre-approved, USDA certified and inspected farms.
    All eggs arrive from USDA inspected, family owned and operated farms and are delivered within 48 hours of being laid.
    Hens are fed diets that contain no hormones, no antibiotics and no animal by-products are used.
    The eggs enter our patented pasteurization system where the carriers transport the eggs to our clean, warm water bath pasteurizer.
    The eggs continue through the water bath where this mixture of exact time and temperature assures accurate pasteurization. The eggs are pasteurized to exceed a 5 log reduction of harmful bacteria or viruses without cooking the eggs. The 5 log reduction of Salmonella is the regulated standard set by the FDA required for a product to be labeled pasteurized. The NPE patented process ensures that eggs meet and exceed this 5 log FDA requirement without cooking the eggs.
    The eggs move on automated carriers where they receive an optical check that identifies and removes all damaged or cracked eggs.
    The eggs then are conveyed out of the pasteurization bath and through an automatic waxing unit which applies a food grade wax protection over the egg shell. This wax acts as an additional seal to protect the eggs from absorption of any cross-contaminants that otherwise could pass through the shell’s thousands of open pores.
    Next, the eggs receive a red Circle P stamp identifying them as pasteurized.
    This finished product is then packed, moved to coolers and brought to below 45°F., and palletized for shipment.
    The pasteurization facility and production are managed under controlled HACCP procedures adhering to defined SOP’s and GMP’s and Circle U Kosher approval standards. The facility and process are inspected and certified by USDA and Silliker Labs and approved by the FDA.
    The total pasteurization process above results in destruction of bacteria and viruses inside and outside the shell, preserving freshness and taste as well as significantly extending the shelf life of the eggs.
    That’s how we pasteurize our eggs!

Wow. I think there is too much ‘stuff’ done to those eggs. I want my eggs fresh out of the chicken. Not hauled somewhere, put through a water bath (which I’m still not understanding how they get the temperature to a pasteurization level without cooking the egg) and then waxed, stamped and then hauled to the store. Good thing that the process extends the shelf life (typed with sarcasm).

I’ll admit that I don’t know how common salmonella is. But this egg pasteurizing website tells me that “it is estimated that .01% of eggs in the retail market are infected with salmonella or one out of every 10,000 eggs in the U.S.” The CDC actually breaks that down a little bit more and specifies that most infected hens are found in the North East and “In the North East, approximately one in 10,000 eggs can be internally contaminated”. And it goes on to say “in other parts of the United States, contaminated eggs appear less common”. And from the Egg (the have a logo that say The Incredible Edible Egg) website we are reminded that “in the rare event that an egg contains bacteria, you can reduce the risk by proper chilling and eliminate it by proper cooking. When you handle eggs with care, they pose no greater food safety risk than any other perishable food.” and they say that “one in 20,000 eggs” are contaminated with salmonella. I believe that all of the information given is regarding eggs in the retail market even though the CDC and the Incredible Egg people do not specify that. I was unable to find any statistics or information regarding pastured eggs.

For my family we will continue to get pastured eggs from the two sources that I have found until our own hens start laying. I trust these sources. And I believe that a pastured egg provides a better source of nutrition. Some excellent Food Bloggers have already put out some great information on pastured eggs. Kelly the Kitchen Kop (in the comments she even mentions that she eats pastured eggs raw, as do many others), Food Renegade talks about Real Eggs, Cheeseslave discusses pastured vs free range eggs. Visit them for more information.

Oh and did I mention, that pastured eggs taste better? My family (especially Joe) notices a huge difference.

What do you think? Pastured Egg or Pasteurized Egg?

This post is a contribution to Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade

Millie Copper
Millie Copper is a Wyoming wife and mama. After reading Nourishing Traditions in early 2009, her family began transforming their diet to whole, unprocessed, nutrient dense foods—a little at a time while stretching their food dollars. Millie is passionate to share how, with a little creativity, anyone can transition to a real foods diet without overwhelming their food budget. Millie began blogging in late 2009 and has amassed a collection of frugal recipes and methods. Her specialties include cooking with wild game and creating “Stretchy Beans”. Discovering a love of writing, she has penned four books focusing on healthy eating on a budget and is trying her hand at fiction writing. Learn more at MillieCopper.com.


  1. Marg

    >Millie, I had no idea either! I also question the ability to pasteurize the egg with mere water without cooking it. We know how easily an egg white sets.

    The wax protection over the shell after the "pasteurization" is something that nature takes care of in the first place. Eggs have protective membrane when they are laid, which gets washed off in their pasteurization method. I have to wonder what is IN the dye of the circle P stamp as well. Is the wax protection meant to protect against the stamp dye as well??

    An egg, gathered directly from the hen the day it was laid, has a refrigerated life of 3 months! How much longer do they need the eggs to last? (Makes you wonder how old those eggs at the store REALLY are) It is said that an egg ages 1 week for every day it is left at room temp., so maybe they are trying to make up for the time it took to pasteurize it?

    Really makes you stop and think why our society needs this kind of reassurance.

    I'm with you. I'll stick to eggs fresh from the hen and not hauled somewhere to do who-knows-what-with! I choose pastured.

  2. Michaela Dunn Leeper

    >I'm with you on pastured!! I am blessed with a local source for fresh-out-of-the-rear-of-a-chicken-egg, LOL. Can't wait til mine start laying!!

  3. Millie

    Thank you for adding some great information. Don't you love how with the washing and pasteurizing that they have to re-do something that God did in the first place with the wax.

    Yep, thats right. And I can't wait for my ladies to start laying either. Today they had two hours of unsupervised yard time. They even put themselves to bed like they were supposed too.

  4. Michaela Dunn Leeper

    >Isn't that the cutest thing, aside from babies & kids, LOL. I got the opportunity to watch mine a couple nights ago, literally, as they marched up into the coop. Then I went to the window & watched as the climbed the roost, ruffled their feathers & hunkered themselves down for the night. I love watching the ladies. They are hilarious & intriguing & just plain COOL! The kids refer to them as TV without the commercials. Hey, I can dig that! 😀

  5. JLB

    >So I need to start pastuerizing my eggs to get you to keep buying them huh?? 😉

    (They're nuts!)

    With only 1 in 10,000 to 20,000 being infected anyways though who is going to prove that they aren't being "pasteurized?"

    My stupid chicks have to be tossed in every night. One always gets it in their head to sit in the doorway and the others wont push it in so they go down the ramp and start sleeping beneath and I have to toss them in and shove and toss…

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