New Food Safety Technology Developed for
Eggs By Laura
McGinnis May 8, 2009
Good news for fans of raw cookie dough:
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists have filed a patent on technology that can protect pasteurized
liquid eggs from food safety threats.
These threats include both naturally-occurring spoilage bacteria and
pathogens. But don't go running for that dough just yet; the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration still
cautions against consuming raw, unpasteurized eggs or products that contain
The new technology was developed by
Luchansky, researchers at the ARS
Regional Research Center (ERRC) in Wyndmoor, Pa.
Current pasteurization technology removes heat-sensitive pathogens,
but some heat-resistant spoilage microorganisms can survive. Consumers can
avoid illness by properly preparing and cooking eggs before consumption, but
the researchers have found that new technology can compensate for the
shortcomings of thermal pasteurization.
The technology, called "crossflow microfiltration membrane separation"
(CMF), removes more pathogens than thermal pasteurization. And it does so
without affecting the eggs' ability to foam, coagulate and emulsify, meaning
that CMF-treated eggs could be safely substituted for pasteurized eggs in angel
food cake and other products where those characteristics are desired.
In a pilot-scale study, CMF was shown to remove about 99.9999 percent
of inoculated Salmonella enteritidis from unpasteurized liquid egg
whites. The technology can also be used to remove Bacillus anthracis
spores from egg whites. This finding adds to previous work in which ERRC
researchers used CMF to remove 99.9999 percent of B. anthracis spores
inoculated into fluid milk. Microfiltration can also protect milk from more
common bacterial pathogens, potentially extending its shelf life.
Although effective in its own right, CMF works best when used as an
accompaniment to pasteurization, not a replacement for it. Combining the two
processes significantly reduces the pathogen load.
about this research in the May/June 2009 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.