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Food Safety: Americans Concerned, but Not Aware

September 24, 2007
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September 23/Lab Business Week -- As September's National Food Safety Month kicks off, a new survey of 2,500 Americans reveals that 93% of Americans are as concerned or more concerned than they were last year about contracting food-borne illnesses.

The study, conducted by TNS, a world leader in market research and commissioned by National Pasteurized Eggs, also revealed that 96% of Americans say that media coverage has contributed to keeping or increasing that concern over the past year.

"If Americans are still concerned about food-borne illness, the best thing they can do is to continue to educate themselves about safe handling and cooking procedures that will keep them, and their families, free from these illnesses," says Debra Holtzman, nationally recognized food safety expert and best-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 of food-borne illness, the survey showed that 81% of respondents know that eggs are a known cause of salmonella poisoning, a major food-borne illness, if they are consumed raw or undercooked. Still, 57% of Americans report eating eggs that are not fully cooked as their preferred style, including those prepared sunny side up, over easy or as Eggs Benedict.

While cooking can destroy salmonella, less than two percent of Americans can accurately report the internal temperature to which an egg should be cooked in order to eliminate salmonella: 160 degrees, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Services; and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw or undercooked eggs are responsible for more than 118,000 cases of salmonella annually, many cases going unreported or undiagnosed. Annually, Americans eat 257 eggs each, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Eggs as a food are not the issue, but salmonella certainly is," said Holtzman. "Cooking eggs until yolks are hard and properly handling them are vital safety steps in fighting salmonella. However the simplest way to enjoy safe eggs any style, and keep your kitchen free from salmonella cross contamination, is to use only eggs that are labeled as pasteurized."

From the September 24, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash

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