SEOUL, South Korea Oct. 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The recent egg contamination scandal in Europe, where Fipronil, an insecticide, was detected in eggs, has caused a social controversy in South Korea. Park, Tae-kyun, CEO of KOFRUM (Korea Food Communication Forum) and a Research Professor at the Department of Food Bioscience and Technology, Korea University, said, "Eggs are very important food and protein source in South Korea. Most South Koreans eat at least one egg daily. As the pesticide egg wave subsided, egg consumption in South Korea begins to increase again. Korean eggs are known to be very safe, unlike the usual expectations."
Salmonella is the most common food poisoning bacteria when it comes to eggs. In the United States, each year one million people suffer from salmonella food poisoning, with 350,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths. Approximately one in 10,000 eggs in the U.S. and EU is contaminated with salmonella. Large-scale egg recalls are frequent in the U.S. due to salmonella contamination.
In contrast, Korean eggs have been completely free from salmonella. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in South Korea collects and inspects eggs at more than 1,900 poultry farms and outlets every year. Salmonella has not been detected for more than 10 years. The Korea Consumer Agency, a government agency for consumer protection, regularly conducts tests on 100 shell eggs and their contents for salmonella. There have been no eggs contaminated with salmonella. The reason that Korean eggs are free from salmonella contamination is because South Korean government requires poultry farmers to meet stringent egg hygiene standards.
"You can check how long it will remain for sale on the market by looking at the mark on the eggshell. Korean eggs have shelf lives -- usually 7 to 35 days. The South Korean government not only regularly conducts salmonella tests on eggs, but also has a reward and punishment system based on the results," Park, Tae-kyun, CEO of KOFRUM (Korea Food Communication Forum) said.
For non-heat-treated liquid eggs, that is, non-pasteurized liquid eggs, the standard of food poisoning bacteria is applied at the same level as pasteurized liquid eggs. In other words, salmonella should not be detected in non-pasteurized liquid eggs either. The South Korean government has banned distribution of eggs that have not been hatched but have damaged eggshells. Salmonella tests are also conducted on laying hens and chicken feeds in order to fundamentally block salmonella contamination in eggs.
"Eggs contaminated with salmonella seem normal, without any difference in flavor or appearance than ordinary eggs," Professor Seo Gun-ho of Konkuk University's veterinary department said.
"The fact that salmonella has not been detected for a long time in Korean eggs indicates that Korean eggs are hygienically managed and produced. Korean eggs are refrigerated, their shelf lives are set, quality is standardized, and production history can be tracked in case of pollution," said Ahn Young-ki, chairman of Korea Self-Help Committee for Eggs.
He emphasized that "It's hygienic and it's okay to eat after breaking eggshell without washing it first." In addition, more than 80% of Korean eggs are produced by hens that are raised free of antibiotics.
Korean eggs have been exported to Hong Kong. The export temporarily stopped due to the recent AI occurred in Korea but is expected to resume next year.
Eating salmonella-contaminated eggs can cause enteritis in a couple of hours or even after 24 hours. Common symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, which are similar to general food poisoning.
Healthy people who suffer from enteritis after consuming salmonella-contaminated eggs usually heal themselves without antibiotic treatment, although symptoms may persist for 4 to 7 days. If diarrhea becomes severe or exhaustion occurs, immediate treatment or hospitalization is advised. Eggs are the best "economical" nutritious food that nature has given.
10 ways to reduce the chance of getting a salmonella infection while eating eggs
- Keep eggs refrigerated until just before cooking.
- Do not eat cracked or dirty eggs.
- Clean hands and cooking utensils with cleanser after cooking.
- Cook until the whites and yolks do not flow and become harden, and eat immediately.
- Eggs which have been left for more than 2 hours at room temperature should be disposed of, because there is a possibility of bacterial reproduction.
- Leftover dishes with eggs should be refrigerated immediately.
- Do not eat raw eggs.
- Do not eat food that contains undercooked eggs.
- Only consume pasteurized eggs.
- People with a weakened immune system, including children and the elderly, should follow these measures more closely.
Korea Food Communication Forum (KOFRUM)