With Salmonella, It's A Chicken-Or-Egg Conundrum - NPR

Courtesy of John Ingraham

Eggs themselves are remarkably resistant to germs like salmonella. The shell and proteins in the egg white normally do a good job of fending off pathogens. But eggs laid by a bird infected with salmonella will likely be infected, too.

"Eggs have been getting a bad rap lately as the number of people being made sick by eggs contaminated with salmonella continues to rise. But from an egg's point of view all of this is a bit unfair. Eggs get contaminated because the hen that's laying them is infected. Eggs themselves — if they come from a healthy bird — are remarkably resistant to contamination.

John Ingraham is particularly interested in how eggs stay microbe-free. He is a microbiologist and a chicken owner, and he happens to be my grandfather. He has spent years exploring the world of tiny organisms and so-called "retirement" hasn't changed that.

About a dozen chickens strut and peck in a large chicken coop tucked in between the clothes line and the gleaming pool in Ingraham's back yard in suburban Sacramento. They're quite vocal, and Ingraham points out the distinctive cackle that means one has laid an egg. They sound quite proud of the accomplishment."

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