Eggs: food safety tips
The popularity of low-carbohydrate diets finds more people consuming eggs; however, the fear of salmonella, a foodborne bacteria, will keep some from enjoying and cooking with them. Salmonella can cause intestinal infections that can be serious (or even fatal) especially for people who are at higher risk of foodborne illness such as young children, elderly, and those who have a weakened immune system.
Following these food safety practices will help prevent foodborne illnesses when consuming eggs:
- Be sure eggs are clean and uncracked. Buy eggs that have been refrigerated. If there is any bacteria in the eggs, it will grow rapidly at room temperature.
- Wash your hands, utensils, equipment and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs.
- Keep eggs in their original container in the coldest section of your refrigerator. NOTE: The refrigerator door is the warmest area of your refrigerator!
- If you store fresh eggs properly, they will keep four to five weeks beyond the carton's pack date. Don't keep eggs out of refrigeration. If eggs are left at room temperature more than two hours, throw them out.
- Serve your cooked eggs and egg dishes as soon as possible after cooking. If you plan to serve prepared or baked eggs at a later time, refrigerate and use within three to four days or freeze them for longer storage.
- Egg mixtures such as egg bakes, quiches and casseroles are safe if they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
- To make a safe recipe using eggs that are not cooked, use pasteurized in the shell eggs.
- If you plan to empty eggshells for decorating, you can use the contents of the eggshells in a recipe that calls for thorough cooking. Use the contents immediately or freeze them. Baked dishes such as casseroles, custards, cakes or breads are great ways to use these eggs.
- Hard-cooked eggs can spoil more quickly than raw eggs. After cooking, cool the hard-cooked eggs quickly under cold water or in ice water. Refrigerate and use them within one week.
- Meringue should be safe if it is baked at 350° F for 15 minutes.
- Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten, uncooked egg whites may not be safe. To reduce the risk, substitute pasteurized in the shell eggs or dried egg whites, whipped cream or whipped topping.
Revised by Lou Ann Jopp, University of Minnesota Extension educator, 2011.