(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
The careful purchase of fresh eggs and fish – among the most widely consumed foods on Passover – will prevent people from coming down with serious gastroenterological infections, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.
Last year, there were 1,721 reported cases of salmonella enteritidis infections caused by eggs not produced or stored properly. These can result in serious complications and even death in people who consume them who have weak immune systems from chronic disease or pregnant women.
Since it’s impossible to completely prevent the presence of the bacteria in fresh eggs, one must take special care. When purchasing eggs, do so only from recognized shops that are properly air conditioned. Make sure packages are marked with details on the sorting station and the last date of consumption. Don’t buy eggs whose expiry date has passed.
Make sure egg shells are clean and not cracked.
At home, store eggs only in the refrigerator. Do not store them in contact with other foods. Never wash eggs, the ministry advised, as this destroys the protective natural coating and makes it possible for dangerous bacteria to penetrate the shell.
If you want to cook a whole egg inside other food, such as in cholent, one should wash the shell immediately before inserting it into the stew so bacteria don’t have time to multiply.
Eggs should be fully cooked before eating; don’t eat foods with raw eggs, such as mousse, or an over-easy fried egg. To prevent bacterial grown in cooked foods containing eggs, put them in the refrigerator within two hours of the end of cooking. Always wash your hands carefully with soap and water before and after touching eggs or their packaging and clean containers and kitchen utensils that come in contact with raw eggs.
As for fish, vibrio vulnificus bacteria found in pond fish – mostly mullet (buri); sea bream (denis)and tilapia (amnun/musht) – can cause infection just from the skin being pierced by infected scales, gills and fins in individuals with weak immune systems. Infections that go out of control can led to severe pain, swelling, inflammation, sepsis, necrosis, amputation of limbs and even death.
According to the ministry’s epidemiology branch, in 2014 there were two cases of serious vibrio infection.
To avoid it, buy fish only from merchants with a business license. Make sure the fish on display are kept under a layer of ice chips. Never purchase fish directly from open stands or fishponds in which sanitary conditions are not optimal.
Do not touch fresh fish with bare hands; this is an especially important rule for people with weak immune systems or open wounds.
Leave cleaning only to gloved, experience fishmongers. Don’t purchase live or whole fresh fish but only those that have been cleaned with the fins, gills and scales removed.