I remember a friend telling me her doctor told her not to eat caesar salad when she was pregnant because there is raw egg in the dressing. How about sauce béarnaise or hollandaise, they also contain eggs. Are these safe?
The original recipe for Caesar salad dressing contains among other ingredients raw egg,. and similar to other raw food there is a potential risk, though very small, of becoming infected with a bacterium called Salmonella if you eat raw eggs.
Salmonella are bacterial organisms that infect many animals and humans. They are excreted in feces, and can be transmitted through direct contact with feces, or through contact with something which has been contaminated with feces.
When you ingest Salmonella, you can develop salmonellosis, which is an infection with the Salmonella bacterium.
The most common source of salmonella is through the ingestion of contaminated and raw or undercooked food, especially chicken and eggs. Cooking food to above 160 degress Fahrenheit kills the bacteria.
In its milder manifestion, salmonellosis can result in, and may often be erroneously dismissed as, the flu or the "24 hour bug". In it’s more severe manifestation, salmonellosis can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea, severe dehydration, high fever, and even death.
Salmonella in pregnancy is not more severe than if you weren’t pregnant. It’s usually mild with some diarrhea and there is usually no increased risk to the fetus. Your doctor can make the diagnosis from examining a sample of stool for salmonella. If salmonella is diagnosed no therapy is usually needed because most cases of salmonella disappear by themselves.
Only rarely will a pregnant woman become so ill and dehydrated that antibiotics, intensive treatment and admission to the hospital are indicated.
But it’s not just undercooked meat or raw egg that pose a risk of salmonella.There are many other food products in your home that can infect you.
You can also get Salmonella from other things such as:
- raw sprouts
- raw milk
- fresh squeezed juices like orange juice,
- dog toys (!)
- and many other places.
Because the original recipe for Cesar salad dressing contains raw egg, you may want to eat a 'modified' Cesar's salad without raw egg if you are concerned about getting infected with salmonella.
You should also take other precautions to protect yourself from becoming infected with salmonella such as:
- Regular washing of your hands, especially before and after going to the bathroom
- Avoiding undercooked chicken and other meat
- Cooking eggs well. A lightly cooked egg would not get to a temperature hot enough to kill the bacteria. Cooking the egg yolks until they reach a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit is hot enough to kill the bacteria.
- If you are cooking the sauces, then go ahead and see if you can get the right product when heating to 160 degrees. If someone else is, then you might want to avoid eating both since you have less control over what cooking method they use.