To avoid the
possibility of foodborne illness, fresh eggs must be handled carefully.
Even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain
bacteria called Salmonella that can cause an intestinal
infection. The most effective way to prevent egg-related illness
is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs—or foods
that contain them—safely. That is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) requires all cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated
to destroy Salmonella must carry the following safe handling
Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness
from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks
are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. *
these instructions is important for everyone but especially for
those most vulnerable to foodborne disease—children, the elderly,
and persons with weakened immune systems due to steroid use, conditions
such as AIDS, cancer or diabetes, or such treatments as chemotherapy
for cancer or immune suppression because of organ transplants.
have been treated to destroy Salmonella—by in-shell pasteurization,
for example—are not required to carry safe handling instructions.
- Buy eggs
only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case. T
- Open the
carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells
are not cracked.
- Store eggs
in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best
any food, remember that cleanliness is key!
- Wash hands,
utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water
before and after they come in contact with eggs
and egg-containing foods
is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe.
eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs
should not be runny.
and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C).
Use a food thermometer to be sure.
- For recipes
that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish
is served—Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two
examples—use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy
Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method,
or pasteurized egg products. Treated shell eggs are available
from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled,
while pasteurized egg products are widely available.
multiply in temperatures from 40°F (5°C) to 140°F (60°C), so it's
very important to serve foods safely.
- Serve cooked
eggs and egg-containing foods immediately after cooking.
- For buffet-style
serving, hot egg dishes should be kept hot, and cold egg dishes
- Eggs and
egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated
for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F
(74°C) before serving.
eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods should
not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat
- Use hard-cooked
eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking
- Use frozen
eggs within one year. Eggs should not be frozen in their shells.
To freeze whole eggs, beat yolks and whites together. Egg whites
can also be frozen by themselves.
leftover cooked egg dishes and use within 3-4 days. When refrigerating
a large amount of a hot egg-containing leftover, divide it into
several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.
On the Road
eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with
enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold.
- Don't put
the cooler in the trunk—carry it in the air-conditioned passenger
compartment of the car.
- If taking
cooked eggs to work or school, pack them with a small frozen
gel pack or a frozen juice box.
The Safe Handling Statement must appear on all cartons of untreated
shell eggs by September 2001.
FDA also requires that, by June 2001, untreated shell eggs sold
at stores, roadside stands, etc., must be stored and displayed
under refrigeration at 45° F (7° C).
U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION -- Center for Food Safety
and Applied Nutrition
FDA's Food Safety Website: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/
1 (888) SAFEFOOD