A few weeks ago, I came across a Malaysian company, Safe Food Corporation (Safe Food), claiming to be the first to produce and sell pasteurized eggs locally. It made me wonder, “Aren’t all the eggs in the grocery store already pasteurized?”
“Nah. Check their labels,” they replied. After a quick Google search, their statement is true. Most grocery stores actually sell disinfected eggs, not pasteurized. And that can make all the difference.
Clean the interior and exterior
Disinfected eggs are treated with UV lamps to kill bacteria or viruses that may be present on the surface of eggshells.
Pasteurized eggs, however, have been treated with precise, gentle heat for a long period of time to remove harmful bacteria and viruses like salmonella or bird flu. These pathogens can be present inside and outside of eggs and tend to be responsible for food poisoning.
The Safe Food team clarified that there is actually no harm in consuming unpasteurized eggs, as the heat from cooking is usually enough to kill pests. That is to say, if they are 100% cooked.
In today’s culinary world, eggs aren’t just fried or hard-boiled anymore; many recipes often use raw and half-cooked eggs. Think of mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, uncooked cakes, half-baked eggs served for kopitiam breakfasts, or those fancy oozing egg dishes at cafes you get for the gram.
“These are examples that have a certain percentage of raw vegetables that carry a certain percentage of risk of food poisoning,” said Maverick, founder of Safe Food at Vulcan Post.
In fact, Dato ‘Dr Norlizan Mohd Noor – the head of Malaysia’s Veterinary Health Department – said about 1% of the million eggs raised in Malaysia could be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
“If we eat half-cooked eggs and have diarrhea or food poisoning, we often don’t know where it went wrong. Sometimes we blame seafood or meat before we think of semi-cooked eggs, ”Maverick added.
And it was this mindset that kept Safe Food from entering the Malaysian market when they introduced the technology here.
Malaysians just didn’t see the point
Despite the benefits of pasteurized eggs, it has not been easy to convince the Malaysian market that is not willing to shell out more for such a staple.
“Thirteen years ago, when we brought Safegg to market, it took a lot of expensive advertising and promotions to educate the market and get their attention,” Maverick explained.
Dictionary time: Safegg is Safe Food’s brand for its pasteurized eggs using award-winning egg pasteurization technology in South Korea.
As they continued to educate the market and go about their business, Maverick also noticed a paradigm shift among Malaysian consumers. People started to become more health conscious and were also willing to spend more on good quality food.
“Over the past 13 years, we have seen an increase in Malaysian acceptance of pasteurized eggs,” Maverick confirmed. The public acceptance of Safe Food also had a domino effect: once a consumer was happy with the product, they would usually come back asking for more and recommend it to their own friends.
“Even in focus groups at my children’s school, I have seen parents recommending pasteurized eggs to other parents without knowing that I am the CEO of Safe Food Corporation,” he said. .
Of course, there is a segment of consumers who are not convinced. Maverick said the team is still receiving comments from people saying they’ve eaten cheaper unpasteurized eggs and see no point in changing.
But the team is not backing down, believing that with continued education more Malaysians will make the switch.
It’s like milk, consumers now understand the importance of processed milk such as pasteurized milk, UHT milk, and they know that fresh, unprocessed milk poses a high risk of food poisoning if it is. badly handled. This has been achieved through years of market education.
Maverick Lee, Managing Director of Safe Food Corporation.
More brands to reach more customers
The pasteurization technology used by Safe Food was brought in from Korea, where Maverick learned of its importance during a trip to the country 14 years ago. Seeing the potential of such a market here, he opened the Safe Food factory in 2008 and sold the processed eggs under their brand, Safegg.
Today, Safe Food supplies the B2B and B2C segments in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Some of their notable clients include local F&B brands like Go Noodle House, Paradise Dynasty, A&W, and Dunkin Donuts.
In the B2C segment, their pasteurized eggs can be found in grocery stores nationwide such as Cold Storage, Isetan, Aeon, as well as Jaya and Village Grocer. Safe Food also branched out into the ecommerce scene during the 2020 MCO by offering deliveries for their eggs through their new brand, Eggshipper.
In addition, the company also launched ready-to-eat pasteurized egg products such as tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet), pickled eggs, and more. via another brand, Eggnovative.
Regarding their goals for the next 3 years, Maverick said the team is looking to export their products to more countries. They also hope to increase retail awareness and focus on branding efforts to educate more customers about the benefits of pasteurized eggs.
- You can read more about Safe Food Corporation here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Maverick Lee, Founder and CEO of Safe Food Corporation
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