Playing It Safe With Eggs

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 requires all cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella must carry the following safe handling statement:

Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria; keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

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Following these instructions is important for everyone but especially important for those 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.

Eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella – by in-shell pasteurization, for example – are not required to carry safe handling instructions.

Buy Right

Keep Everything Clean

Before preparing 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.

Cook Thoroughly

Thorough cooking is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe.

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.

Serve Safely

eggpie.jpg image on bigy.comBacteria can multiply in temperatures from 40-140°F so it’s very important to serve foods safely.

Chill Promptly

Refrigerate 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 cook quickly.

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