Cooking with kids not only provides a family activity but teaches lifelong skills. Kids love to help and (of course) sample the products. It’s hard for kids (and adults) to resist eating the raw cookie dough or lick the beaters when making cakes or chocolate brownies. A food safety lesson you can teach early is that foods containing raw eggs should not be eaten—no matter how tempting. Raw eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that could result in a food-borne illness. Salmonella can cause illness in anyone, but children who have undeveloped immune systems are especially vulnerable.
I’ve seen advertisements in cooking magazines for pasteurized eggs. While these products look like and can be used like regular “shell” eggs, they have been heated to kill any potential bacteria. Other sources of pasteurized egg products include whole-out-of shell eggs (liquid eggs—frequently used in restaurants) and low-cholesterol egg products (made primarily with egg whites). These pasteurized products are great if you want to use a favorite family recipe that calls for an uncooked egg such as egg nog, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise and uncooked ice cream. Another option is to search for “reformulated” safe recipes. We have a banana nog recipe that offers an eggless, low-cholesterol and low-fat alternative to an egg nog made with raw eggs and lots of cream.
While the ads for pasteruized eggs say it’s OK to lick the spoon, younger children may not be able tell the difference between products made with raw “regular” eggs and those made with pasteurized egg products. A good rule-of-thumb is that no one should eat uncooked dough or batter.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State Univeristy