Hi Marc,
With the Salmonella scare on the mainland caused by a batch of cream in 800 cakes, what is the best way to guard against it when using eggs for pastry cooking during the summer?

Steph Holmes, Palma

Salmonella is a bacterium that can be found in water, soil, and work surfaces, animal feces, raw meats, poultry and eggs. It is extremely difficult to detect as some contaminated foods do not look or smell unusual and could have been contaminated anywhere along the food chain. Cooking kills the salmonella bacteria so foods containing raw or under–cooked eggs, poultry and meat are the ones with a higher risk of infection. The hot temperatures during the summer months increase the spread of contamination considerably so all reasonable safety precautions should be taken. Hands, chopping boards, counters and knives should be washed thoroughly before and after handling uncooked foods. Pastry items containing cream or eggs should always be stored in the refrigerator and away from uncooked meats to avoid the risk of cross–contamination. The question of the use of eggs is a good one as it is something we have always taken for granted, nowadays most restaurant and hotel kitchens are obliged to use pasteurised eggs that are sold in cartons and, for certain things, they are very good. You cannot however make a fried, poached or boiled egg from them and other preparations, for reasons beyond me, are complicated by the use of pasteurised eggs. Clarifying a consommé is one of them. All one can do is follow adequate safety procedures and be sensible when handling foodstuffs, unfortunately, no matter how diligent you are you can never be 100 per cent sure.

Chef Marc Fosh