The potato omelette is one of the emblems of Spanish gastronomy. Who doesn’t like to enjoy a good tortilla skewer I eat lunch? Hardly anyone resists this delicacy from our kitchen. However, few people know that the consumption of potato tortilla presents great health risks if we do not pay attention to certain details during its preparation and cooking. Unfortunately, incorrect handling of the egg can lead to unpleasant consequences.
Several food poisonings have recently been reported in a well-known restaurant in the Salamanca district of Madrid, called Casa Dani. This place is quite known for its potato tortillas, which usually receive very good reviews from diners. Unfortunately, this was not the case on January 26, when it was learned that several people had been hospitalized for an outbreak of salmonellosis after supposedly consuming potato omelette from said establishment. As of today, the number of those affected amounts to about 102 people, confirming that said potato tortillas have been the culprits. Among those affected, several people have had to be hospitalized, including children. What could have gone wrong during the preparation of these foods?
use fresh eggs
We usually think that when food poisoning occurs it is because a food is in poor condition. That is, expired or past its date, with obvious signs of deterioration. But it’s not always like this. In fact, most disease-causing pathogenic bacteria do not produce appreciable changes in the food Neither taste, smell or visual. Wow, that could be the tortilla full of Salmonella and you don’t even know
This is due to Salmonella it can be present in the egg naturally, specifically in its shell through contact with the hen’s feces. For this reason, before a incorrect handling of the egg we run the risk of contaminating the interior of the food. In this way, not washing your hands with soap and water after handling fresh eggs will cause cross contamination to pans, forks and any utensil that we touch in the kitchen.
Beware of insufficient cooking
If to all this you add insufficient cooking, Salmonella You will almost certainly get off scot-free. to destroy Salmonella it is necessary to reach an approximate temperature between 70ºC in the center of the product. Otherwise, the food cannot be considered safe for human consumption.
A risk practice that can happen when we prepare tortillas is to use to serve the same plate where we have cracked the eggs previously. It is a blunder, because even if we have cooked the tortilla well, we will be recontaminating it with possible Salmonella of the fresh raw egg. Better choose a new plate that is clean.
Do not keep cold
Finally, if we add incorrect storage of the potato omelette to this bizarre succession of events, we will have a whole microorganism festival in the food The potato tortillas must be kept at a temperature below 8 °C, that is, refrigerated. So do not hesitate to use the refrigerator to store cooked food, and consume it in a maximum of 24 hours.
Nothing to leave the tortillas at room temperature for long hours, as we sometimes see in some bars and restaurants that use cold-free showcases to store these foods. Or, if they have the right equipment, they choose to leave the tortillas in full view of all diners on top of the bar, violating these crucial temperature recommendations.
They are crucial because, if we already start from a bad manipulation that implies the presence of Salmonella, when we leave it at room temperature, the multiplication of bacteria will be very fast. Temperatures between 20-35 °C are ideal for pathogenic bacteria, whose exponential growth can lead to the appearance of millions of bacteria in a few hours. Salmonella it is capable of doubling every 15-20 minutes, approximately. This implies that every hour the number of bacteria is multiplied by 8. That is, starting with a single bacterium: in about 7 hours we are planted with more than 2 million bacteria. How are you staying? Again, even if that many miniature critters had landed on your plate, you would eat your tortilla so hot and not notice a thing.
What is the egg?
To solve this type of microbial drawbacks, the food industry devised the roe. Huevina is the term that is used colloquially to refer to some egg products, that is, products derived from eggs. Specifically, Huevina is liquid egg that has been pasteurized in the food industry and, therefore, is free of Salmonella.
It is a safe product for use in the hospitality industry, which is why it has become one of the best options for save yourself problems and head warminglike the one that sadly has happened with the Casa Dani tortillas.
About the egg there are certain erroneous beliefs, such as that It is mandatory in the hospitality industry to make egg-based preparations. However, this is not entirely correct. In catering, fresh eggs can be perfectly used, only with some requirements established by Spanish legislation.
What does the law in Spain say about roe eggs?
Specifically, according to what is established by Spanish legislation through Royal Decree 1021/2022 intended for retail trade that was updated a few months ago, raw eggs can be used as long as a minimum temperature of 70 °C for 2 seconds in the center of the product.
This completely eliminates the option of using raw eggs to prepare mayonnaise, creams, sauces and other types of preparations that are never subjected to cooking. So, for these cases, it is true that fresh eggs are restricted in catering. Hence, many people believe that this is the case in a general way.
However, and as we said previously, fresh eggs can be used for recipes where they are cooked. And this is where it comes into play the famous spanish potato omelette, a preparation that unequivocally consists of the ovoid protagonist in its traditional recipe. Fortunately, we find updated recommendations in this new regulation, which indicates that for preparations such as fried eggs or potato omelettes, it will be enough to cook at a temperature of 63 °C for 20 seconds to ensure product safety.
My personal recommendation is that you cook the egg completely, you will save yourself a lot of trouble. Especially if there are young children at home, pregnant women or the elderly. In these cases it should be non-negotiable to gamble with an undercooked tortilla, since the damage to health can be much more serious.
On the other hand, if you are a healthy adult, assess for yourself if it is worth risking your health for a tortilla skewer. Each one you choose, but I am clear that I prefer to live. If we completely curdle the tortilla, we are ensuring that the food will not be dangerous for human consumption. This is because the white of the egg coagulates at approximately 62-64°C and the yolk at 68-70°C. Now, if instead of a potato omelette we like to drink a pool of raw eggs —which is a highly appreciated gastronomic practice— we will be running greater health risks, being able to have more ballots to contract salmonellosis.
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