Circle up everybody, it’s almost Pi Day!

It’s that time of year again. Ladies and gentlemen, Pi Day is upon us.

Pi (∏) Day is celebrated March 14 (get it? 3/14 in honor of Pi’s first three digits: 3.14). The infinitely long number is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is used ubiquitously in math. Without it, humanity would have serious difficulty with all things circular (pi is used to find the area of a circle, among tons of other things).

As an irrational number, unlike a spouse, pi continues infinitely without ever repeating itself. So far, it has been calculated to more than 1 trillion digits.

And what better way to celebrate one of the most important numbers in human history than with the baked good that shares its (phonetic) name: pie.

So, in honor of Pi Day, here are some tips to prevent your baked delights from giving you a bad case of the ick.

  • We’re all tempted to lick the spoon or sample the dough. However, if the mix contains raw egg it’s best to skip it. Uncooked raw egg can harbor nasty pathogens, such as Salmonella enteritidis.
  • Make sure the filling reaches a safe 160°F, especially if it contains egg (e.g., cream, custard or meringue pies).
  • Clean your space before and after. Think about it. Do you really want to roll out a pie crust where Mr. Fluffycat has trekked his kitty litter-dusted paws? Probably not.
  • Moist desserts made with eggs and milk can be a breeding ground for bacteria if left unrefrigerated. Follow the two hour rule, that is, don’t leave food out for more than two hours.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. If you used a utensil to mix something with raw egg, wash it before using it to mix something else, especially if it’s part of the recipe that doesn’t have to be cooked.

Fast facts: Salmonella enteritidis

Salmonella enteritidis is one of the most common types of Salmonella and it is the only kind that actually can penetrate intact eggs. Given this, it’s no surprise that most S. enteritidis cases derive from people eating raw or undercooked eggs. 

The best way to prevent becoming sick is to ensure eggs are cooked thoroughly and are properly refrigerated. This means cooking the egg until the yolk and white are firm and opaque. If the egg is mixed with other ingredients, the dish should reach an internal temperature of 160°F.

S. enteritidis also can be found on raw chicken. Cooking the meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°C helps prevent illness, as does proper storage of raw chicken and leftovers.

For more information on pi and Pi Day, visit the Pi Day website.

For more information on baking a pie, you could visit some site such as www.bettycrocker.com, or give grandma a call and see what she’s up to.

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