In the old days, kids ate cookie dough without their mothers worrying about someone getting sick from the raw eggs in the mixing bowl. National Pasteurized Eggs is returning consumers to that simpler time. The south suburban startup is the first outfit to patent a method of pasteurizing eggs while they're still in their shells. Like dairy processors that pasteurize milk, NPE heats yolks to more than 125 degrees, killing potentially deadly salmonella bacteria by bathing the eggs in "a giant Jacuzzi," says Greg West, the Lansing company's 49-year-old president. The eggs are then stamped with a red P, to distinguish them from nonpasteurized eggs, and sold under the Davidson's Safest Choice label in such grocery chains as Dominick's, Jewel-Osco, and Wal-Mart (WMT). West notes that his pasteurized eggs cost up to 75% more than untreated eggs, putting them in the premium category with cage-free or omega-3-enriched eggs. Even so, he predicts NPE will pasteurize 200 million eggs in 2008, with revenue reaching $30 million, up 50% from a year ago. Its fast-growing customer base: institutional food providers, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and schools.
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