Let’s say from the answer. Yes, we eat raw eggs on a daily basis. And we love it. This unique food custom in Japan which surprises other countries people is too ordinary for Japanese. It’s off the topic, but I remember on my first trip to New Zealand, I was surprised that this Japanese culture made people surprised.
For Japanese, adding raw eggs to their cooking is very usual. It’s almost as natural as adding some fruits to cereal. There are many home cooking recipes using raw eggs in Japan, such as Tamagokake gohan (rice with raw egg) as you may know, Tsukimi-Udon or Tsukimi-Soba (Noodle with soup and add some toppings including raw egg. ), Sukiyaki that using raw egg as a source, and we put raw egg on various Doburi cooking (Basically, a raw egg on the top of the rice).
First of all, why does it dangerous to eat raw egg?
Egg may get infection of salmonella that causes food poisoning. The temperature for salmonella to grow is over 10°C, and the number will increase multiply by the time. It is at high incidence of cooking or sweets using raw eggs. Symptom of the food poisoning by salmonella are vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever. We must be especially careful in the case of children and elderly who are weak on physical strength.
However, it can be killed by enough heating (The center temperature of the food is over 75°C for 1 min, or 65°C for 5 min). Besides, the growth of salmonella can be prevented by keeping the temperature in the refrigerator below 10°C.
Why is it OK eating raw egg in Japan?
With the Japanese egg said to be safe, the food poisoning sometimes occurs. We can’t say 100 % safety that eating a raw egg in Japan, but it is OK as long as we keep appropriate preservation in mind.
Because there is the culture of “eating raw food” in Japan, people naturally put attention on the conservation and management of raw food. We put the best-before date and expiration date for most of fresh food.
Best-before date is shown on the package of eggs (Usually 2 weeks). It refers to a deadline for eggs that can be eaten raw safely in Japan. Also, if it is past the best-before date, you can still eat it after cooking (It’s better to eat eggs as soon as possible after passed the best-before date). In Japan, eggs that are sold such as supermarket have already been disinfected and sterilized. And the dirt on the egg surface has been cleaned and disinfected at the GP center (Grading & Packing).
Eggs are vulnerable to a change of the temperature. There are many tiny air holes on the surface of eggshell. The water formed on the surface of the egg due to the temperature change, easily get inside of the egg through these air holes which contains bacteria. So it is important to keep the egg in the steady temperature for its freshness.
Originally the eggshell is covered in egg cuticle (Secreting fluid at the time of the laying eggs) after laying eggs, and so bacteria become hard to invade it. In addition, the two layers of shell membrane inside of the shell prevent the invasion of bacteria even it went through the air holes. However, the function of this shell membrane is impaired along with the number of days. Therefore it is necessary to eat an egg while it is fresh and before the best-before date.
Salmonella may be occasionally found in the egg at the time of laying eggs. However, if we keep those eggs properly in a refrigerator, it is said that there is not the problem to eat as raw before the best-before date. As I said some time ago, elderly and children, or pregnant women would be better to avoid those eggs. And also, to safely keep the eggs in the refrigerator, we better place them other than door section, where temperature changes might occur. Also, try not to eat such as cracked and broken eggs as much as possible.
Let’s try a raw egg in Japan next time.