What You Need to Know About Egg Safety

It's important to practice good food safety when you’re dealing with eggs.  Following are some good egg safety tips to keep in mind the next time you’re buying, storing or cooking eggs.

Handle with Care:

  • Look through cartons of eggs to find a package that has uniformly colored shells, no shells should be discolored or have opaque spots
  • Don’t purchase a carton with an egg that is cracked
  • The breed of the hen determines the color of her eggs, nutrient levels are not significantly different in white and brown shell eggs
  • If you're packing your own groceries, wrap the eggs in an extra bag if you are concerned they might break 
  • When grocery shopping, make sure eggs aren't on the bottom of the cart or bag so they don’t get crushed
  • It's not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs
Keep Them Cool:
  • Although egg containers may recommend storing below 45, but to address food safety for all types of products in the refrigerator, 40 degrees should be the upper limit
  • Keep the eggs in the main part of the refrigerator in the original carton, not on the door which can be a different temperature due to opening and closing or in the separate egg container that sometimes comes with refrigerators
  • A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the movement of bacteria into the egg and increasing the growth of bacteria
  • Eggs always have a date on the carton and may have a date stamped on the egg itself
  • Eggs will typically last about four or five weeks

Cook Them Through:

  • There are some kinds of bacteria that can get into the egg while it is being formed, specifically a type of Salmonella that can make people sick, especially small children
  • Cook eggs until the yolks are solid, not runny
  • Don’t eat raw cookie dough that has the eggs in the batter, or other uncooked foods that contain raw eggs
  • Egg white powder is dried egg white and because it is pasteurized, can be used safely without cooking or baking it
  • There are also pasteurized liquid eggs in containers similar to milk pints or quarts, and there are a few companies that pasteurize eggs in the shell; these can also be consumed without heating, although they will not whip up to form a meringue
  • Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a thermometer

Jennifer McEntire, PhD
USDA Fact Sheet on Egg Safety

Categorized under: Food Safety
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