LANSING, Ill., Sept. 4 As September's National Food SafetyMonth kicks off, a new survey of 2,500 Americans reveals that 93 percent ofAmericans are as concerned or more concerned than they were last year aboutcontracting food-borne illnesses.
The study, conducted by TNS, a world leader in market research andcommissioned by National Pasteurized Eggs, also revealed that 96 percent ofAmericans say that media coverage has contributed to keeping or increasingthat concern over the past year.
"If Americans are still concerned about food-borne illness, the best thingthey can do is to continue to educate themselves about safe handling andcooking procedures that will keep them, and their families, free from theseillnesses," says Debra Holtzman, nationally recognized food safety expert andbest-selling author of "The Safe Baby: A-Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety"(Sentient Publications).
In addition to naming meats, fruits and vegetables as sources offood-borne illness, the survey showed that 81 percent of respondents know thateggs are a known cause of salmonella poisoning, a major food-borne illness, ifthey are consumed raw or undercooked. Still, 57 percent of Americans reporteating eggs that are not fully cooked as their preferred style, includingthose prepared sunny side up, over easy or as Eggs Benedict.
While cooking can destroy salmonella, less than two percent of Americanscan accurately report the internal temperature to which an egg should becooked in order to eliminate salmonella: 160 degrees, according to U.S.Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Services; and U.S. Foodand Drug Administration.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw orundercooked eggs are responsible for more than 118,000 cases of salmonellaannually, many cases going unreported or undiagnosed. Annually, Americans eat257 eggs each, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Eggs as a food are not the issue, but salmonella certainly is," saidHoltzman. "Cooking eggs until yolks are hard and properly handling them arevital safety steps in fighting salmonella. However the simplest way to enjoysafe eggs any style, and keep your kitchen free from salmonella crosscontamination, is to use only eggs that are labeled as pasteurized. "
The TNS survey was conducted in June 2007 among 2,500 respondentsnationally representative of the U. S population. For more information on thesurvey, visit http://www.safeeggs.com.Key findings in the survey included: -- 70 percent of Americans believe the best way to eliminate the risk of salmonella is to thoroughly cook eggs. However, 57 percent of Americans eat eggs that are prepared in styles that are not thoroughly cooked. -- 33 percent of respondents say that cleanliness or avoiding cross contamination are the most effective ways to eliminate the risk of salmonella poisoning. -- Almost a quarter of Americans, 25 percent, believe that having quality food habits is the best way to avoid food-borne illness. -- Undercooked eggs are consumed by Americans as follows: -- Over easy 35 percent -- Sunny side up 25.2 percent -- Eggs over medium 12.3 percent -- Eggs Benedict 11.8 percent -- Poached eggs 10.8 percent -- Soft boiled 10.8 percent
SOURCE National Pasteurized Eggs