Health Effects of Eating Raw Eggs

You’ve probably heard about bodybuilders who regularly consume protein shakes laced with raw eggs, but what you might not know is that regularly consuming raw eggs can be bad for your health. The fact of the matter is that eggs can contain a whole host of substances that should really be cooked before being consumed.

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Update: Due to the emails and the comments this article received I felt like I needed to make an update. I wrote this article to warn people about the possibility of salmonella in eggs. But as the article clearly states you only have a 1 in 30,000 chance for an egg to contain the salmonella bacteria. And even if an egg contains salmonella, there’s a smaller chance you will actually get sick from that. So people who eat raw eggs regularly and find nothing wrong with it absolutely have a point; the chance you will catch salmonella is too small to worry about for them. However, some people are picky and find 100% safety important! I just wanted to be 100% correct so people know what they are eating. Hope this helps!

So why do people eat raw eggs in the first place? Well, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around saying that raw eggs are higher in protein than cooked eggs. Some health gurus have even suggested that cooking the eggs breaks down the proteins into unusable pieces, so eating the eggs raw provides a better burst of nutrients for your body. That’s simply not true. The fact is that the regular cooking temperature of your stove isn’t hot enough to denature a protein, so whatever you put into the pan is what you get back out of it.
broken egg
Unfortunately, when you choose to eat raw eggs (which is not recommended), you are subjecting your body to many different food borne illnesses. Salmonella is a particular problem with uncooked or undercooked poultry and when you consume raw eggs you are just begging to get sick. Salmonella causes food poisoning, the effects of which can be quite bad in certain populations such as people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and children.

Salmonella is usually found in the yolk of the egg, so cooking it in a way that leaves the yolk runny will not kill the bacteria. To be truly safe, you need to thoroughly cook all of the egg, not just the whites. Poaching, hard boiling (the most often used method and described in our how to hard boil eggs page) or scrambling are all good ways to ensure the egg gets thoroughly cooked.

If you just can’t bring yourself to quit indulging in the creamy yellow centers, you can at least rest a little easier knowing that salmonella is only found in about 1 out of 30,000 eggs, and even if it contains salmonella, there’s a small chance you will actually get sick. However, there is no way to tell whether your egg is safe or not without putting it through scientific testing or eating it and seeing what happens. For most healthy adults, salmonella isn’t a big problem. However, children and other susceptible groups should practice caution and consume well-cooked eggs.

Weigh the risks and benefits of eating raw eggs before you decide if it’s a path you want to take. Most people find that they don’t miss the raw eggs in their diet and prefer their eggs cooked. Experiment a little bit with your egg recipes and you’re sure to find something you like that’s less risky than eating your eggs raw.

  • Carlos

    People can say what they want to say. If you were to actually eat a contaminated egg, the amount of salmonella is so small, you’ll just sweat it out at the gym. Its soft. It’s nothing. I hate articles like this that are “informative”, but are just out here to confuse and scare people more. Let people do what’s right for the body.

    • mhikl

      Hey Carlos, regardless how small the chance may be of illness, it has to be mentioned. I know a little gal (<2) who ate a burger from a known franchise & is now missing part of her intestines (maybe stomach?). So bad things can happen. Someone who has immune disfunction needs be mindful (reminded maybe) of this.

  • Dude chill

    This article is bizarre. 1/30,000 eggs contain traces of salmonella. I’ve been eating raw eggs for years and if you’re storing them correctly and eating high quality eggs you run next to 0 risk of contamination, and like carlos said, so small a chance you’ll sweat it out.

    I don’t understand the purpose of scare tactics in eggs.

  • jfodsj

    You mentioned that eating raw eggs expose you to different food borne illnesses such as Salmonella and that’s the only support you used for your argument, then you said the chances of that are low because it’s 1/30,000 eggs so you contradicted yourself a little. What other illnesses are associated with eating raw eggs?

  • SalmonellaIs4Pussies

    Just drank my first two raw egg milkshake while reading this

  • Clement Yeung

    I just hope that people read these comments. I’ve been eating raw eggs happily for years.

    Illnesses from eating raw eggs are a result of conditions for both the chickens and the eggs, and as long as you buy organic, free-range and eat the eggs before they go bad, you’ll be fine.

  • Boarlock

    @Dude chill: Umm.. It doesn’t matter if you ate raw eggs your whole life, just because you don’t get sick doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Salmonella if you do get infected can kill you, it gives intense diahrea and sweating. Which if not treated properly could lead to dehydration. I’m not saying never eat any raw eggs ever again, just if you do know the risks, and the warning signs.

  • sebriz

    If a regular pan can not denature a protein then why do eggs harden when cooked in a regular pan

  • yuvaraj

    A half boiled egg in the pan, is it a raw egg or boiled egg?

  • Miss Camish

    what happens if you eat a rare egg? Would you get poorly and end up in hospital needing special treatment?

  • Graham Seychelles

    What a load of BS. Been eating raw eggs since childhood. More than 4 per day. Was hoping to get some insight on this site. Ha. Anyway now I have discovered raw ducks eggs. Delicious and creamier in a protein shake with raw milk, banana and a dash of vanilla.

    • Tiger eye 21

      o so lucky

  • Brad Tedford

    Salmonella has been linked to the development of arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. There has been other research that suggests a link to diabetes, so the whole ‘oh its only a little bit of food poisoning’ has now been discounted. Im no longer eating raw eggs.

  • tommyk

    Thanx for the information. I have to say,no reflection on you…that it is a wonder any of us know what to do,eat,etc….and it isn’t just the plethora of contradictory information on the net. That in itself is overwhelming,but it is the wrong information,well meaning ,but,still,that has been a problem for decades. I was a young adult in the 80′s…not kidding,the hysteria made over eggs and heart disease,fat and cholesterol kept me from eating one of my favorite and versatile foods. I bet other than where eggs happen to be inside food I only had an occasional egg when out to breakfast.

    I would have been eating them as a routine part of my diet if not for well meaning information. And this went on for 3 decades. I just find that unacceptble. Not that there is anything a person can do about it.

    After about 4months of blissful egg eating,having read several articles from reputable sources that oops,the info in the 80,s was wrong,we are told a new host of information that is disconcerting. How many are safe,how to cook them and the the chicken industry, a slime factory of disease. The latter problem should be enough for all of us to just stop all together. What I have seen about the filth allowed and the disfunction of regulatory agencies is enough to make you sick without the actual bacteria found in the eggs,meat,everywhere.

    What a pathetic situation. It appear it is directly related to the paranoia,in some instances of government intrusion,with real government disfunctional. But the culprit,the top reason is the corps getting away with murder and I’m not using murder as an exaggeration here. People die,usually children and elderly so corps don’t have to be regulated. The legislators are so beholden to the big $ lobbys and corps ties to them that it has become and at our expense a situation where our food,in the wealthiest country in the world is infected with filth,so rich people can become richer!

    Happy egg eating. If you have the time check out the John Oliver HBO segment on the chicken industry. Real info with a big twist of satire. Worth the time.