There’s probably only about a one in 10,000 chance that if you order your eggs Sunnyside up, or if you cannot resist licking the bowl when making chocolate cake, or if you’d like to start with a Caesar Salad that you will end being infected by Salmonella.

Eating eggs can be risky as they are a source of Salmonella infections.  And Salmonella makes 1.4 million Americans sick each year, sends 15,000 to the hospital, and results in 400 deaths.

One egg for breakfast, one or two in that chocolate cake, and another to make that Caesar Salad all add up to increased risk.   

Your odds go up further if shell eggs are being used by a food service or restaurant.  For even the best food handling practices are not going to prevent cross contamination in kitchens using many shell eggs.

Now there is a way to eliminate the danger of Salmonella.  Buy only pasteurized eggs.  Pasteurized eggs are the fastest growing segment of the industry.

Largest of the pasteurized shell egg companies is National Pasteurized Eggs (NPE).  Earlier this month, it opened a new state-of-the-art plant in Flandreau, SD.  Along with its first location in Lansing, IL.,NPE sells eggs under the ‘Davidson’s Safest Choice” brand to food services, restaurants, and retailers in all 50 states plus Mexico and Puerto Rico.

“Davidson’s Safest Choice” eggs are sold free of Salmonella and Avian Flu because they are put through a patented in the shell pasteurization process that does not result in cooking them.  Independent taste tests conducted in Good Housekeeping kitchens have not been able to tell any differences between raw and pasteurized eggs.

Demand for safe eggs is clearly on the rise.  The new South Dakota will produce 240 million pasteurized eggs annually. The two plants will be able to turn out 1 million Salmonella-free shell eggs daily.

Initial customers were nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities with an immune compromised population to feed. Food services and restaurants are also signing up to take the risk out of their menus. 

Texas Tech University in Lubbock is among the latest to sign up, offering the 28,000 students served by its food service only “cage-free pasteurized shell eggs” from NPE.

“While eggs are a great, nutritionally dense product that is an essential item for all meals, we believe pasteurizing eggs is simply the best way to keep all Americans safe from the dangers of salmonella poisoning,” says NPE President Greg West. “Texas Tech is leading the foodservice industry by ensuring the eggs they bring into their facilities are perfectly safe and avoid sickening even a single person.”

West said Texas Tech’s move to pasteurized cage-free shell eggs comes at time when the pasteurized egg category is experiencing phenomenal growth, as more and more food service operators look to reduce the risk of food poisoning and avoid large scale salmonella illnesses or outbreaks.

In South Dakota, NPE is working in conjunction with Dakota Layers LLP, a cooperative of 120 family farmers raising eggs from cage-free hens.

More than 93 percent of Americans eat shell eggs.  Except for hard cooked scrambled eggs, most eat eggs that are not cooked to  the safe temperature of 160 degrees.  Each American eats almost 21 dozen eggs each year.  About one out three eggs consumed in the U.S. are pasteurized.

Among the 30 retail chains now selling Davidson’s Safest Choice” eggs are: Publix Supermarkets, Harris Teeter, Giant Eagle, Roundy’s Supermarkets, Copps Food Centers, Rainbow Grocery, Jewel-Osco, HEB Supermarkets, Bristol Farms, and Piggy Wiggly.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) wants Salmonella reduced, including its spread through eggs.  Egg-related Salmonella-enteritidis infects about 142,000 Americans each year.