Free range eggs and salmonella

free range eggs are the main source of salmonella.

Do you have some citations?


Hello @peter4

please have a look at:

You will see from the RSPCA’s summary of the Food Standards Australia report that:
"A report produced by FSANZ (2009) found that Salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning related to eggs. An egg can be contaminated by Salmonella as it is laid (the source of contamination is either the bird’s vent or the surface upon which the egg is laid) or the egg becomes contaminated as it is being formed inside the bird. Fortunately, this latter method of contamination is by types of Salmonella that are not present in Australia.

The FSANZ report mentions no risk factors pertaining to the type of production systems used – i.e. no difference in risk between cage, barn or free-range systems – rather, the risks relate to consumption of contaminated eggs that are either raw or undercooked, or dirty eggs cross-contaminating other foods or surfaces during food preparation. Overall, the frequency of eggs contaminated with Salmonella is very low in Australia and any food safety risk can be significantly reduced by cooking."

In other words, in terms of salmonella risk it doesn’t matter how the chickens are stocked.


That research is a load of nonsense, all the recent major food poisoning by eggs , mayonnnaise, has been tracked back to free range eggs. The problem with free range and barn laid eggs is that they are dirtier and often have to be washed, eggs are porous and anything bad on the outside penetrates to the inside, I notice Google has had a clean up job done on the dangers of free range eggs, which of course someone paid for. $2.80 for a dozen safe cage eggs $9 for a dozen chancy free range eggs says it all.

If the FSANZ (2009) research is nonsense as you suggest @peter4, then as also requested by @fred, please provide some credible research that substantiates your claims.

Further, any claims made about mayonnaise (using raw eggs) causing food poisoning, need to be teased apart and clarified whether:

  1. the eggs themselves contained the salmonella, or was it due to poor food handling procedures, that is leaving the raw eggs or even the finished mayonnaise in a temperature range where bacteria could multiply to cause food poisoning, and
  2. whether the eggs were actually free range eggs or from other production processes.

Please note, I have no problems with what you are saying per se, IF you can substantiate your claims.


Hi All,

Thanks for the comments. I’ve also seen this claim circulate around social media sites and thought it would be a good one to discuss on the CHOICE Community. @meltam, thanks for sharing that information, and @peter4 thanks for your comments. We welcome all viewpoints, but you must also back up your positions with facts or experience. This is also a friendly reminder to treat each other with respect and to address ideas and not people.

This report may also interest readers as it shows a fairly broad global viewpoint and references a large number of different organisations from professionals, government and scientific organisations such as the The Institute of Food Technologists. In particular, the report notes the complexity of tracking this process, notes food handling procedures, and ‘reinforces the importance of post collection control measures for Salmonella’.


This document sugests there is no increased risk of Salmonella from free-range or barn eggs:

There is currently a lack of research regarding whether, or how, different egg production systems
impact on-farm Salmonella carriage rates (Holt 2011) . Changes from caged systems to cage-free
systems have been suggested to affect the safety and quality of eggs through microbiological or
chemical contamination, but these effects have not been fully investigated. In our surveys, free
range, barn and caged systems have shown comparable Salmonella carriage rates, so show no
significant evidence of an increased risk based on any particular production system type

I’ve been eating my own free-range eggs for over 40 years without suffering food poisoning from them.

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I was brought up on a poultry farm starting before cages when they were all free range and the work that went into egg production was onerous, despite laying boxes many of the chooks had other ideas so you had to search for the eggs then most of the eggs were dirty so you had to wash all the eggs and remove the eggs that floated (rotten eggs float) and the mortality rate of the chooks was high , they find many ways to kill themselves especially if there are any hawks around or even if someone gives a piercing whistle, the arrival of cages ( a financial burden at the time ) gave us clean eggs with no need to wash or worry about rotten eggs, the lack of washing reduces the chances of salmonella as do cages, most of the evidence appears to have disappeared from the internet but this is no surprise as we have seen over the last ten years faux science brings government grants. However think back to the cage era , there was no mention of egg poisoning it was only the advent of barn and free range eggs that it became a problem to the extent that eggs are now often pasturised

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Thats the facts, thats the experience.

Hi @peter4.

Salmonella is a bacteria which is present in birds, (inc. chicken) intestines. It is present in intestines no matter if a bird is wild, free range or caged.

If a flock has salmonella, then there is a risk that any chicken products may be contaminated with salmonella…no matter if wild, free range or caged.

Eggs coming into contact with contents of the intestine, faeces or the rectum could be inadvertently contaminated. Eggs in the wild, free range or caged birds haves such risks.

The only argument that may be plausible would be that free range birds have higher chance of coming into contact with salmonella contaminated materials which may increase risks…but then other factors such as husbandry standards, cleanliness, flock infected with salmonella, food hygiene, food preparation etc would also need to be assessed as risk factors.

I think that to broad brush free-range with having the only risk is risky in itself without any evidence.

Conspiracies about removal of information from the internet is just a conspiracy. Scientific papers in independent peer reviewed journals would need to be the sort of evidence needed to substantiate such claims. The internet does not mask/hide such research.

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Not very convincing check Langham hotel 2015 I think and you will find all mention of free range has been eliminated, husbandry and hygiene is undeniably much higher in cage birds, from 2015 on there was a large increase in salmonella from free range eggs but the reporting died off , similar to every over the average temperature day being boosted in the media but a day like today when iI needed a coat not being mentioned,

@peter4. Have done a bit of research on your Langham hotel 2015 example. It appears that there was free range chicken served for the meal…but this was not found to be the source of the contamination. It was mayonnaise made with contaminated eggs. The source of these eggs appear to be unknown and suspect that it would have come from a commercial food supplier (if the mayonnaise was made on site) or the mayonnaise was made off site, from a separate kitchen premises.

Should also say that with a food like mayonnaise, cross contamination could be also the source rather than eggs per say.

There have also been some myths on the internet lately about dangers of free ranged eggs. I expect that such myths have been generated through the announcement that cage eggs will be eventually phased out and potentially from those who have an interest in caged bird eggs.


It is very interesting to note that this so-called story about free range eggs causing salmonella has only started since the Consumer has demanded ACCURATE labelling and reporting legislation with regard to caged chickens and free range chickens…

It appears to me that it is the large companies who are perpetuating this issue on Social media, as this is the only way such nonsense can be circulated without scientific support…

The same companies that cram three chickens into tiny spaces so that they cannot move at all naturally, shut them up in a shed so they never get to see sunshine or ever get to peck on the natural earth.

Now that the public is demanding chickens have some real grass to peck at and enjoy, and sunshine on their backs and not be squashed - three in a tiny cage so that they can not move around freely - that this salmonella story hits the headlines …

Inghams and Manos do not want the extra expense of a chicken-loving public who demand freedom and natural, normal conditions for an animal to live, as that would cost them far too many millions to even contemplate, and they would need so much more land to carry out such an exercise, it is just unthinkable!

I wonder who started it, and now, who is perpetuating this frightening health concern??

It certainly would not be the Consumer, who is paying twice as much for their free-range eggs - as they are not getting salmonella poisoning…

It would not be the local Farmer, who has had a few free-range chickens run on his farm for the last ten generations and he nor any of his family got salmonella poisoning from eating their eggs…

I just wonder who is trying to scare off all of those caring, animal loving egg eaters?

Makes one think, does it not, where the rumour started from and why…?

“money and greed is the root of all evil”

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Free Range Eggs, organic, global warming appear to be part of a new religion and it is heresy to point out the very obvious flaws and if you try you will certainly be attacked.

@peter4, attacking ideas with evidence is not a bad thing - it’s how we advance our understanding (however, we’re not allowing personal attacks - that’s a different story). We also hope that both sides of any debate will keep an open mind to the evidence or experience that is presented, which I believe is what has happened here.

Thanks to everyone who has shared their point of view on the topic so far.

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Actually I am dismayed at Choice not attacking these very obvious scams , how many $9 a dozen eggs are truly free range?

@peter4, I’m glad you mentioned the issue of ‘true free range’. In fact, we’ve developed an app to help consumers navigate these muddy waters. It’s called CluckAR, you can find out more and download the app here.


Peter, the eggs we sell at the local growers market for $8.90/doz are fed only certified organic grain, (which costs a lot more than grain with insecticides,pesticides and herbicies etc on it) plus organic fruit from our orchard where they are free to range. Stocking density is way, way under the accepted free range/organic standard of 1500birds per hecatare. The eggs are stored in a solar powered refrigerator before the market days too!
Please explain how this is a scam.


I wouldn’t be at all surprised. It’s worked so well for Big Organic.


As in Big Organic, the satire Facebook page?

A great source of humour (like this thread), I recommend perusing it when you need a laugh :slight_smile: