What does "pasteurized" mean?
August 26th, 2010
09:45 AM ET
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The CNN Wire staff reports, "Fresh eggs being produced by farms at the heart of a massive recall are making their way to consumers via facilities that pasteurize the eggs, process them and rid them of any possible salmonella."

"The fresh eggs from the recalled farms are being diverted to USDA-approved facilities for pasteurization," Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Patricia El-Hinnawy said Wednesday."

But what does pasteurization actually entail? In the case of eggs, it simply means heating them, in the shell - usually in a water bath - to a temperature that kills any potential salmonella bacteria, but without actually cooking the eggs.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, "egg products" - which are comprised of the substance inside eggshells and removed to be used in commercial products like mayonnaise, ice cream - are pasteurized by law at USDA-inspected plants. In-shell eggs, however, are not usually pasteurized.

Wondering if yours are? Look for a "pasteurized" label or the letter "P" in a red circle on the carton - and even on individual eggs, depending on the producer.

See all egg recall information on Eatocracy and full coverage on CNN Health

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Filed under: Clarified • Eggs • News • Recalls • Salmonella


soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Marko

    There is a temperature window for the eggs to be pasteurized and not cooked. If you want to do it quickly, its only few degrees, if slowly its more.

    August 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  2. OS2toMAC

    Old Joke – Blond goes to the spa and asks for a milk bath. Attendant asks if she wants it pasteurized. She responds, "No, just up to the shoulders will be fine."

    Sorry. The title of the piece made it come to mind.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:37 am | Reply
  3. OS2toMAC

    It means between the eyes and the eyebrows. EVERYBODY knows that. :)

    August 27, 2010 at 9:34 am | Reply
  4. used2binspector

    Powdered eggs are subjected to five days of 180+ degrees. Roasted peanuts are subjected to 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Salmonella has been known to survive 212 degrees for 24 hours. Frankly, a warm water bath will do precious little to alter the viability of Salmonella. But it makes everyone feel good.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:21 am | Reply
    • someguy

      "Salmonella has been known to survive 212 degrees for 24 hours. Frankly, a warm water bath will do precious little to alter the viability of Salmonella."
      And humans have been known to survive to the age of 115 or more, yet somehow I'm not interested in making a 90 year-old sign a 25 year contract. Nor am I going to allow a statistical corner case to keep me from taking advantage of 150 years of food science that says pasteurization works.

      September 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  5. Somebody Else

    According to information I found on the USDA website, specifically the Code of Federal Regulations, the process described for pasteurizing egss is a water bath at 58 or 57 degrees Celsius for about 57 minutes. Pasteurization has been defined as a 5 log reduction in the target organism, which in this case would be Salmonella E. I'm not refering to the information as I share this so I may be a little off, but this is generally accurate.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Reply
  6. Vroo

    This article gets an "incomplete."

    "to a temperature that kills any potential salmonella bacteria"

    What's the temperature? How long does it need to be kept at that temperature? Etc.

    August 26, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  7. JLinMiami

    It means it does not taste right. But it is the safest choice for consumer!

    August 26, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  8. justin

    Pasteurization lowers the nutritional value of the food as well as the taste.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Reply
    • dewarsonx

      That's a fair comment assuming that you're not feeding a baby, an elderly person or anyone else with a compromised
      immune system. Try explaining to my baby, while she's in the PICU that I was trying to enhance the flavor of her food.

      August 26, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Reply
    • JR

      Only if you were planning on eating it raw, making homemade mayo or salad dressing.

      Since most egg usage involves cooking, pasturization is nothing compared to sticking that puppy into a frying pan. Same deal. It's only heat, it's not radiation.

      August 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Reply
      • Feh

        Heat is radiation. That's why those tubular things plumbed to a boiler that warm a room up are called radiators.

        If you put your face on your grill, it's bad; you get burned, and possibly blinded, by the heat and light radiation. Same thing if you stick you head in a microwave and blast it with that radiation. If you put some zucchini slices with a little olive oil and garlic on the grill or in the microwave, thus exposing them to radiation that cooks, you get a healthy, tasty snack.

        August 27, 2010 at 3:53 am | Reply
  9. APUN SHAANAAA

    In the case of eggs, it simply means heating them, in the shell – usually in a water bath – to a temperature that kills any potential salmonella bacteria, but without actually cooking the eggs.

    August 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  10. Brian

    I clicked on the link to the story because I wanted to know "What does "pasteurized" mean?". You didn't tell me!!!!

    August 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Richard Ringgold

      Great, you guys have managed to write an article about pasteurization without explaining the process. I think that you probably have a future in gov't service, possibly in healthcare

      August 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Reply
      • Kat Kinsman

        "But what does pasteurization actually entail? In the case of eggs, it simply means heating them, in the shell – usually in a water bath – to a temperature that kills any potential salmonella bacteria, but without actually cooking the eggs."

        August 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Reply
      • d

        ..and your politicization of the mundane gives you a leg up as an anchor for FOX.

        August 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Reply
      • Chris

        A good old fashioned dictionary might help.

        August 26, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • Aron

      The reading comprehension of folks on the internet is rather frightening these days. There are 8 total sentences in this article. One of them clearly explains how eggs are pasteurized. However, in case you choose not to read all 8 sentences, they bolded the one with the answer. I'm not sure how they could have dumbed this down any further.

      August 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Reply
      • Chris

        Thank you!

        August 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Reply
      • Fhqwgads

        I think what they meant was that it explains what is physically done, but not what that process actually does or how it works. How do you heat an egg without cooking it? What time and temperature are required for it to be deemed pastuerized (fundamental). Maybe you dont have a depth of curiosity for knowledge as much as most people, but you dont have to bash their reading skills. They have a valid point

        August 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  11. Slinko

    Thanks, m0t0rm0uth!

    August 26, 2010 at 11:58 am | Reply
  12. m0t0rm0uth

    The milk used to make the yogurt is pasteurized. The bacteria are created through (or added during) the fermentation process.

    August 26, 2010 at 11:31 am | Reply
  13. Slinko

    I was just in the grocery store wondering about that. I have to eat yogurt with live cultures (because of an antibiotics regimen I'm on) but how can yogurt be pasteurized and still have live cultures? Wouldn't the pasteurization process kill them off?

    August 26, 2010 at 11:13 am | Reply

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