Salmonella is killed by heating at 60 °C for 12 min (pasteurisation), so using pasteurised eggs could be a solution to reduce risk. However, some consumers think that this would affect the taste and texture of food, and are therefore reluctant to the idea.

In the frame of SafeConsume project, researchers from the Dunarea de Jos University of Galati in Romania and Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Portugal served egg dishes made of either with pasteurised or unpasteurised eggs to consumers and asked whether they could notice any difference in taste and texture and if they found the dishes acceptable. Tiramisu, chocolate mousse, condensed milk mousse, eggnog and Hollandaise sauce were evaluated by 178 consumers (untrained panellists) from Portugal and Romania.

How different are the products obtained with raw or pasteurized eggs?

While Portugese consumers thought that the taste and texture of chocolate mousse made from pasteurised eggs were different from the ones of mousse made of unpasteurised eggs, the Romanians did not detect significant differences in this regard. Meanwhile, the results revealed that the overall acceptability of the dishes was similar in both countries and for all the recipes either made with raw or pasteurised eggs.

Consumers acceptance of using pasteurized rather than unpasteurized eggs

The main drivers of consumers’ acceptance of dishes made with pasteurised eggs were flavour and texture. All the dishes prepared with liquid pasteurised eggs were accepted by consumers as they cannot clearly be distinguished from their counterparts prepared with raw eggs.

Key message for consumers

As Salmonella-contaminated eggs are the most frequent cause of salmonellosis, pasteurised eggs can be used as a safer ingredient to substitute shell eggs in raw egg-based dishes without significant reduction of the sensory quality of the dishes that traditionally are made with raw or undercooked eggs.

Key message for politicians

Having in view the frequency of notifications regarding eggs contaminated with salmonellae in the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the number of salmonelosis cases, food safety authorities may consider pasteurised eggs a solution that can significantly contribute to decrease the burden of foodborne diseases as result of diminishing the number of cases and outbreaks of salmonellosis.

”Although the price for pasteurised eggs will be higher than for non-pasteurised eggs, if such an intervention is going to be put into practice, the benefits of egg pasteurisation over the societal burden of salmonellosis are expected to be similar to those obtained for pasteurised milk when it had to replace raw milk”, says Anca Nicolau, the corresponding author of the study.

”Like in the Swiss Cheese Model, together with hygiene applied all along the food chain (From farm to fork), hen vaccination, and other measures that can be taken against Salmonella, egg pasteurisation is going to add one more barierr for consumer protection against foodborne diseases” continues Nicolau.

Key message for entrepreneurs

Since liquid pasteurised eggs are already widely used, especially by industry and restaurants, the authors provide reasons supporting pasteurisation of eggs in shell as a more convenient solution for consumers. So, why not pasteurisation of eggs in shell become a business oportunity as well?

The scientific article

More information about the study can be found by accesing the following paper from Elsevier: Mihalache, A., Jao Monteiro, M., Dumitrascu, L., Neagu, C., Ferreira, V., Guimaraes, M., Borda, D., Teixeira, P., Nicolau, A. (2022). Pasteurised eggs - A food safety solution against Salmonella backed by sensorial analysis of dishes traditionally containing raw or undercooked eggs. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 28, 100547.