Handle Eggs Properly to Prevent Salmonella
Eggs: you may like them sunny side up or over easy, but it's safer to eat eggs that are cooked well. Today some unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. To be safe, eggs must be properly handled, refrigerated, and cooked.
How does salmonella infect eggs?
Bacteria can be inside an uncracked, whole egg. Contamination of eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen's ovary or oviduct before the shell forms around the yolk and white. Salmonella doesn't make the hen sick. Eggs are washed and sanitized at the processing plant. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in every 20,000 eggs are contaminated with Salmonella. Persons infected with Salmonella may experience diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Who is at risk of illness?
No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes "health food" milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not cooked.
How do you store shell eggs?
Store in the refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or below. Keep them in their carton and place them inside the refrigerator, not in the door. Don't wash eggs because you remove the protective mineral oil coating and increase the potential for bacteria on the shell to enter the egg. Use eggs within 4 to 5 weeks from the day they are placed in the refrigerator. The "sell-by" date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are safe to use.
How do you safely cook eggs?
Hard-cooked eggs should be safe for everyone to eat. The American Egg Board recommends frying, scramble, or poaching eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm.
- Fried eggs — cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, 4 minutes in a covered pan
- Scrambled eggs — cook until firm throughout
- Poached eggs — 5 minutes over boiling water
- Soft-cooked eggs — 7 minutes in the shell in boiling water
Safe vs. Unsafe Recipes
- Homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently to 160 ° F on a food thermometer
- Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting, made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites.
- Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
- Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 ° F for about 15 minutes.
- Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites are risky. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
- To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren't cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 ° F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
Reviewed by Kathy Brandt 2014