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Quail eggs are a nutritious delicacy that you can enjoy either boiled, fried, or pickled. Though smaller than duck and chicken eggs, they are more nutritious than the latter. But what if quail eggs are eaten raw? How safe are they? I got curious and here is what I found.
Is eating raw or undercooked quail eggs safe? So far, there is no case of salmonellosis caused by raw or undercooked quail eggs has been reported. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw or undercooked eggs can be consumed safely as long as they are pasteurized.
- How safe are raw quail eggs?
- The dangers of Salmonella infection or Salmonellosis
- Some people have a higher risk of Salmonella infection when eating raw or undercooked eggs
- What is pasteurization and how can they protect you against salmonella infection?
- Tips for eating raw quail eggs safely
- Other cons of eating raw quail eggs
- Other side effects of eating quail eggs
- Related question
How safe are raw quail eggs?
Quail eggs, like chicken eggs, have the risk of contamination by pathogenic bacteria called salmonella that can cause food poisoning.
Salmonella can contaminate eggs in three different ways,
- On the eggs shell as the eggs pass through the same passageway as feces
- Through the pores of the egg after they are laid
- Inside the eggs before the shell is formed
When you eat eggs that are contaminated by Salmonella, you got infected with a foodborne illness known as Salmonellosis.
The risk of Salmonella infection is higher in raw or slightly cook eggs.
This is because thoroughly heating and cooking the eggs can kill the bacteria. So the chances of getting Salmonella infection from cooked, poached, boiled, or fried eggs are significantly lower.
Recommended read: Does Microwave Kill Salmonella? What You Need To Know
Luckily, getting Salmonella infection from eggs is quite rare and in one study, researchers found out that only 1 in 30,000 eggs produced in the US is actually contaminated by Salmonella.
Furthermore, no reported cases have been made so far regarding Salmonella infection that is caused by raw quail eggs, making quail eggs relatively safe to eat even when raw as long as you handle them properly.
The dangers of Salmonella infection or Salmonellosis
Salmonella is fatal and may cause death if not treated immediately and is considered as the second largest leading cause of the foodborne disease after Campylobacter species.
And Salmonella has been causing sickness for more than 125 years and is more common in the summer than winter.
Once you are infected with Salmonella, you develop symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps in just within 12 to 72 hours.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmonella infection through food causes approximately 1 million illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations, and 380 deaths each year in the United States alone.
Some people have a higher risk of Salmonella infection when eating raw or undercooked eggs
Generally, anyone can get Salmonella infection.
However, the Food Safety and Inspection Service under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that certain groups of people are more likely to get Salmonella infection and other foodborne diseases.
Furthermore, they have a higher risk of developing severe complications of foodborne disease, these groups of people include
- Young children
- Older adults
- Pregnant women and their fetuses
- People with a weak immune system
- People with chronic
If you belong to any of these groups of people, you should not eat raw eggs or any other food containing raw eggs or undercooked eggs, including
- Milk shakes containing raw eggs
- Caesar salad
- Hollandaise sauce
- Homemade mayonnaise or eggnog
Nevertheless, the USDA stated that in-shell pasteurized eggs can be eaten safely even without cooking.
What is pasteurization and how can they protect you against salmonella infection?
Though Salmonella sounds so invincible, it is preventable.
You can kill Salmonella through heating and thorough cooking. This is where pasteurization comes in.
Pasteurization of eggs is the process where heat is applied on eggs in the shell up to a temperature that will kill the bacteria and to some extent, the bird flu virus, but does not cook the eggs.
This method allows raw egg lovers to enjoy them safely.
Luckily, pasteurized in-shell eggs are widely available today and you can find them in the refrigeration section of some supermarkets and even online at Walmart.
Read the product label to identify them.
Tips for eating raw quail eggs safely
Although no raw quail eggs have been associated with Salmonella infection, the risk is still there.
Most of the time, Salmonella outbreaks are linked to food service situation where eggs are pooled.
Improper storage of quail eggs and negligence in preparing and handling them can also increase the risk of Salmonella contamination.
Recommended read: Are pickled eggs safe? Essential tips for safe egg pickling at home
The scary thing about contaminated foods is that you can’t rely on your sense of smell and sight to identify them because they have no smell and do not look any different from normal foods.
That’ why it is important for you to prevent them from having the chance to infect you right from the start.
Better safe than sorry, right?
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
Here are some of the practical tips recommended by the expert to reduce the chances of Salmonella infection when eating raw eggs.
Selection of eggs
Buy and use only pasteurized eggs and egg products that have the USDA inspection mark and are kept in a tightly sealed container with adequate refrigeration.
If you love eating foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs such as hollandaise sauce, make sure they are made only with pasteurized eggs.
Handling of eggs
Make sure all the kitchen tools and utensils used in the preparation of raw eggs are clean (wash them with soap and water), including your hands.
Discard any cracked or dirty egg.
Storage of eggs
Eggs should be kept in a refrigerator at 4°C (40°F) or colder at all times.
A study on the Japanese quail eggs stability at room temperature showed that the Japanese quail eggs can be left at room temperature without any marked contamination no greater than 14 days during summer.
Other cons of eating raw quail eggs
Indeed, thoroughly cooking the eggs can kill the dangerous bacteria that can cause you food poisoning, but that is not all.
In contrast, when you eat eggs in the raw form without heating or cooking them, your body will have a hard time to digest the egg’s protein and can only absorb half of the egg’s protein.
Other side effects of eating quail eggs
Quail eggs, be it raw or cooked, are known to have a lot of health benefits. However, they may cause allergy to some people especially those who are allergic to regular chicken eggs.
This is due to the similarity of the protein structures between the chicken eggs and many other bird eggs such as turkey, duck, and quail eggs.
To put it simply, a person with chicken allergy may also react to bird eggs such as quail eggs and develop an allergy reaction. This is called cross-reactivity.
Cases of anaphylaxis reaction to quail eggs have also been reported by people that have chicken’s egg allergy.
So just to be safe, if you are allergic to chicken eggs, try to avoid eating quail eggs as much as possible.
How many quail eggs can you eat a day? Quail eggs should be eaten not more than 20 in a day. Eating more than 5 quail eggs per day may lead to Vitamin A intoxication so you may need to decrease the consumption of food rich in vitamins A such as beef liver, spinach, carrots, and salmon.
One quail egg is equivalent to how many chicken eggs? A quail egg is much smaller in size and equivalent to one-fifth of a chicken egg. This means that one regular chicken egg is equivalent to five typical quail eggs. However, a quail egg is three to four times more nutritious than a chicken egg.