What You Should Know Before Feeding Your Child Soft-Cooked Eggs

Eggs benedict, sunny side up, soft boiled, over easy, egg dippers — all delicious ways to eat breakfast. Eggs are a staple of our morning food routine, and we like them cooked in so many different ways. Unfortunately, many of these may not be the healthiest of options. Now, we're not diving into the debate of how healthy eggs are, or yolk vs white; we're talking about the health risks of undercooked eggs which can be more significant in children. Registered Dietitian Sally Kuzemchak said to Kitchn, "I know runny egg yolks are trendy right now, but I'd play it safe where kids are concerned."

Children's immune systems aren't fully developed, so kids are more at risk to contract food-borne bacteria like Salmonella (via Livestrong). This advice applies to anyone without an at-risk adult immune system too and includes pregnant women, elderly, and people with certain chronic conditions or illnesses. Undercooked eggs are simply a risk.

Understand your salmonella risks

Kuzemchak further explains, "According to the CDC, kids under the age of 5 have higher rates of Salmonella than any other age group. The risk for serious illness from Salmonella is especially high for babies because their immune systems are still developing," (via Kitchn). Contaminated eggs are reported to cause 142,000 cases of Salmonella per year, according to FDA data shared by Livestrong, including both adults and children. Salmonella systems resemble many stomach flu-like symptoms, including nausea and vomiting as well as a whole other assortment of messy and unpleasant symptoms.

Fully washing all surfaces, including egg shells as well as fully cooking eggs is your best defense. If you prefer to live on the wild side with runny eggs, you may be able to lessen the risk by buying your eggs from locally produced small farms. The specific condition of the laying area has been correlated with the presence of Salmonella (via Hobby Farms) meaning that free range small chicken farmers will likely have a lower Salmonella risk than large scale chicken farms. 

So while eggs are still a great kid food — and definitely a tasty breakfast — you should always consider the source of your eggs and take health into account in your cooking process.