Are Half-Cooked Eggs Good for Kids?

Young woman showing eggs
Children should eat fully cooked eggs. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Eggs provide a number of essential nutrients for kids, including protein, riboflavin and selenium. How you prepare eggs, however, can affect how good they are for kids. Serving a child an egg that isn't fully cooked could increase her risk of developing a foodborne illness called salmonella, so this isn't a good idea unless you use pasteurized eggs.

Children and Salmonella

While salmonella infections can affect anyone, certain people, including young children and people with compromised immune systems, are more likely to get sick when exposed to this bacteria. The illness is characterized by abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and fever. In many cases, no medical treatment is necessary and the symptoms will go away on their own within about a week, but some people need antibiotics to reduce the risk of complications.

Eggs and Salmonella

Contaminated eggs cause approximately 142,000 cases of salmonella per year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Even eggs that look clean and have uncracked shells may contain the bacteria that causes salmonella, which is the most common cause of food poisoning in the United States. Fully cooked eggs and eggs that have been pasteurized in the shell are unlikely to cause salmonella because the heat used to cook or pasteurize the eggs kills the bacteria.

Limiting Salmonella Risk

Wash your hands and work surfaces before and after coming into contact with raw eggs, and cook your eggs until both the white and the yolk are firm. Refrigerate eggs as soon as possible after purchase, and use them within three weeks of purchase. Any dishes containing eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or be made with pasteurized eggs.

Other Considerations

Eggs are high in cholesterol, so you don't want to feed your child multiple eggs in one day. Each egg contains about 187 milligrams of cholesterol, which is almost two-thirds of the recommended limit for children over 2 years old of 300 milligrams per day of dietary cholesterol. Staying within this limit is especially important for children at risk for high cholesterol -- kids with a family history or kids who struggle with obesity.

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