Food Safety

Eggs and Food Safety

Why is safety of eggs a concern when we’ve eaten raw eggs in various recipes for years? Fresh eggs with shells intact were once thought to be sterile inside. Today, scientists know that fresh, unbroken shell eggs may still contain the harmful Salmonella bacteria. While the number of eggs affected is less than one in 10,000, there have been scattered outbreaks of foodborne illness due to Salmonella in eggs.

Although the risk of getting sick from salmonella in eggs is relatively small, the infection from contaminated eggs can be dangerous, especially for the very young, the elderly and those weakened by illness.

Eggs should be kept cold to prevent bacteria growth. After buying eggs, refrigerate them as soon as possible. Be sure to store the eggs in the carton in the main part of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door. Do not leave eggs and foods that contain eggs at room temperature for more than two hours. As with any perishable food, rapid bacteria growth can occur.

Avoid eating raw eggs or foods that contain them. This includes "health food" milkshakes with raw eggs, traditional Caesar salad dressing, hollandaise sauce, homemade mayonnaise, and homemade ice cream or eggnog made from recipes in which the raw egg ingredients are not cooked.

Cook eggs well. Eggs should be cooked until the white and the yolk are firm, not runny. Hard-boiled, firm-fried, and scrambled eggs are safe. Sunny-side up, soft cooked and over easy eggs are not recommended.

Use updated recipes and preparation methods. If you are making eggnog, ice cream or other egg recipes, use commercial pasteurized eggs or egg substitutes in your recipes. Or, use a cooked egg base, such as a cooked custard when preparing.



Meg McAlpine
FCS Agent IV
Contributing Editor