Eggs Fight Back

Eggs may be able to fight off bacteria with new cooling system

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Did you know that eggs are naturally able to fight off bacteria? As soon as they’re laid though, that fighting ability gradually decreases. Have no fear – there may be a solution.

When eggs lose their natural defense mechanism to fight off bacteria, microscopic critters start to build up. If the egg isn’t cooked properly, the remaining bacteria can become harmful to us. A new study may have found a way to help eggs keep their natural resistance.

"New cooling system may help eggs keep natural defense against bacteria."

Kevin Keener, an associate professor of food science at Purdue University, explains that lysozyme is an enzyme that defends egg whites from bacteria. Lysozyme is linked to carbon dioxide and pH levels. As time goes by, lysozyme becomes less active because carbon dioxide and pH levels change.

After experimenting with different pH levels and carbon dioxide, Keener found that high and low pH levels, along with carbon dioxide, have the ability to increase lysozyme activity by 50 percent.

Armed with this knowledge, Keener developed a cooling system that could mimic his results to help eggs naturally resist bacteria like salmonella.

Keener and team are now working on more research to understand the molecular changes that occur during the cooling system. Keener said Food and Drug Administration studies show that if eggs were cooled and stored at 45 degrees or less within 12 hours of laying, there would be an estimated 100,000 fewer salmonella illnesses from eggs in the United States each year.

The research is published in the Poultry Science journal.

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Review Date: 
June 22, 2011
Last Updated:
June 24, 2011