Rotten truth about SA eggs: 73% contaminated with bacteria

15 December 2017 - 06:48 By Dave Chambers
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Almost three-quarters of eggs are contaminated with disease-causing bacteria.

Academics who bought 468 eggs at shops in Pretoria found contamination on the shells, whites and yolks of 73% of them.

Now they say regulations on egg contents are urgently needed to safeguard public health. These should include a requirement that any product containing raw eggs should be conspicuously labelled with a warning that it may contain bacteria that could cause diseases.

E.coli, which can cause food poisoning, was the most common bacterium found in the 13 egg brands, but the finding that alarmed the researchers was salmonella contamination in five brands.

"This raises serious public health concerns," veterinary bacteriologist Alexander Jambalang, leader of the University of Pretoria research team, writes in the SA Journal of Science.

Using contaminated unpasteurised eggs could lead to multiple infections, said Jambalang. There were "huge challenges" with hygiene on egg farms. "Fomites, flies, dust, faeces and rodents serve as a vehicle for contamination ... during collection, washing, sorting, transportation and packaging of eggs."