Food safety and avoiding illness from the foods we eat starts in the kitchen. More than the actual cooking process, how we handle our food during storage and preparation can make a real difference.
Now is the time to practice safe handling and preparation with eggs, as we are reminded by the Food and Drug Administration!
It is important that eggs be handled carefully to avoid the risk of foodborne illness from Salmonella. Salmonella, the name of a group of bacteria, is the most common cause of food poisoning in the United States.
Salmonella can be found on both the outside and the inside of eggs that look perfectly normal. Salmonella can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and also fever. Symptoms usually last a couple of days and taper off within a week. But Salmonella can cause severe illness and even death in at-risk individuals, such as pregnant women, young children, older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.
Egg Safety Tips
- Buy only refrigerated eggs. Check the sell by date before you bring them home. Open the carton and check to see if any of the eggs have been broken and no eggs are cracked.
- Refrigerate eggs in their original container as soon as you arrive home and use them within 3 weeks for best quality. Discard any cracked or dirty eggs. Use within 3 weeks for best quality.
- Keep yourself and your work surfaces clean. The outside shell as well as the egg inside can be contaminated. So, wash hands, surfaces and utensils thoroughly with warm soapy water both before and after they come in contact with raw eggs or egg-containing foods.
- Cook eggs thoroughly. Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm and not runny. Dishes containing eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 °F (use a food thermometer to be sure!). Pre-cooked egg dishes like quiche should be reheated to 165 °F before serving. For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served (like homemade Caesar salad dressing or ice cream), use either eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products.
- Serve eggs safely, especially if doing so on a on a buffet or at a party. Keep hot foods hot (140 °F or warmer) and cold foods cold (40 °F or colder) when serving … and just as with any perishable food, don’t let any egg dish sit out at room temperature for more than two hours. If it does, discard it.
- Discourage anyone (especially those in the high risk for foodborne illness group) from eating raw eggs or foods with uncooked eggs since Salmonella bacteria haven’t been destroyed.