Playing it safe with eggs

To avoid the possibility of foodborne illness fresh eggs must be handled carefully.

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 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food safety website recommends that the most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs (or foods that contain eggs) safely.

Buy Right

  • Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
  • Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
  • Refrigerate promptly.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and use them within three weeks for best quality.

Keep Everything Clean

  • 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. Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
  • Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, for example caesar salad dressing or homemade ice cream, 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

Bacteria can multiply in temperatures from 40°F to 135°F, 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 kept cold.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F before serving.

Chill Properly

  • Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. Within two hours either reheat or refrigerate.
  • Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within one week after cooking
  • Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within three to four days. When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.

To contact an expert in your area, visit MSU Extension expert search, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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