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I recently got my meringue game down and though I wouldn’t eat French meringue without baking it, I’ve seen numerous videos where it’s said that Swiss meringue is delicious straight out of the double boiler. I’ve not seen the same about Italian, but I thought that is cooked in the bowl, too?

So which meringue is safe to eat direct from the bowl?

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    A double boiler is still cooking. But where in the world are you, because the safety of raw eggs is very variable. – Chris H Jul 28 '20 at 9:27
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    England. Does Italian meringue cook the egg? – Matt W Jul 28 '20 at 9:29
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    @MattW In England, undercooked or raw hen’s eggs with the lion stamp are now safe to eat, thanks to a decades-long campaign to eliminate salmonella. nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/eggs-nutrition – Mike Scott Jul 28 '20 at 19:34
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As you're in the UK, they're all safe. Raw egg is safe according to the NHS

Because of improved food safety controls in recent years, infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked hen eggs, or foods containing them, that are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice (regarding hygiene and especially salmonella).

This doesn't apply to all other countries, but it's worth checking in many EU countries, where dishes containing raw egg are traditional (such as chocolate mousse and tiramisu). I've failed to find a single reliable source covering many countries, but Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are essentially salmonella-free. I read enough French to make sense of some sources, but can't find anything definitive more recent than 2013 in which products made from raw egg are advised against for high-risk groups, but generally acceptable; in particular recipes assume that pregnant women will be avoiding raw egg.

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    What does the British Lion Code of Practice do to ensure that raw eggs are safe from bacterial contamination? Surely there is some science behind it, rather than just that feel-good British imperialist ethic? – Cody Gray Jul 28 '20 at 22:25
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    @CodyGray The main points seem to be salmonella vaccination and testing, and cleaning controls. egginfo.co.uk/british-lion-eggs/lion-code-practice – Wossname Jul 28 '20 at 22:59
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    So British French meringue is safe, but French French meringue isn't necessarily so? – Acccumulation Jul 29 '20 at 3:17
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    I think Japan , maybe Korea have similar standard for egg handling, since at least in japan, raw eggs are common to eat no? – encryptoferia Jul 29 '20 at 6:02
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    @Accumulation I haven't checked the French standards, but along with many people happily eat traditionally-made chocolate mousse in France, and that uses uncooked eggs. My understanding is that salmonella vaccination of hens is fairly common in the EU, but if you're in a high risk group you should check. – Chris H Jul 29 '20 at 6:48
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Considering the three main types of meringue (ignoring the 'vegan meringue' made with aquafaba), you would not eat French meringue without baking because it contains uncooked egg. While salmonella-contaminated eggs are increasingly rare in most (Western) countries, including the UK, this is probably wise.

Italian and Swiss meringue are both cooked to some extent; the former by whisking a hot sugar syrup into the eggs, the latter by heating the eggs over a double boiler. Unless you are measuring the temperature of your mixture and the time it takes to cool, you cannot be sure the eggs will be 'officially' safe, i.e. pasteurised.

Given you are in the UK, you will most likely not experience any negative effects from consuming raw eggs (see Chris H's answer for more details on this). If you want to be extra cautious, you could make any of these meringues with pasteurised eggs (recommended by the FDA in the US, where salmonella infections are a little more likely), after which any meringue would be safe to eat raw.

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    In the UK and most of the EU I'd have no problem eating french meringue from a safety perspective, but it isn't very nice from a taste or texture perspective! – GdD Jul 28 '20 at 9:38
  • Thank you, this is accepted as the answer because of the technical information about the cooking process. I’ve not seen pasteurised egg, though. – Matt W Jul 28 '20 at 9:38
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    @MattW Pasteurised eggs are not commonly sold to consumers in the UK. If you have access to an immersion cooker or some other way to cook at low temperatures for an extended period, you could try pasteurising eggs yourself. – LSchoon Jul 28 '20 at 9:42
  • @MattW I've seen bottled pasteurised egg white in the UK, but I can't recall where – Chris H Jul 28 '20 at 11:18
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    the biggest risk is salmonella, though, which UK chickens are required to be vaccinated for. Otherwise, eggs should be a pretty sterile, low risk food to eat raw, unless they're off, in which case you'd really know it. – lupe Jul 29 '20 at 15:25

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