Handle eggs properly

Sandra Cain

June 16, 2014

A potential food safety concern with eggs is Salmonella bacteria. Eggs are perishable and must be handled with care. You cannot tell if an egg contains salmonella bacteria just by looking at it. While you may like your eggs sunny side up or over easy, it’s much safer to eat eggs that are cooked well done. Some unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain Salmonella which 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 otherfoods 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 this removes the protective mineral oil coating and increases 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 — cookuntil 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.

Do not use eggs with cracked shells. When preparing foods that contain eggs, wash hands, utensils, and work surfaces that come in contact with the raw eggs. Source: Minnesota Cooperative Extension

Arizona Cooperative Extension

Egg and Bacon Sandwiches

2 eggs

1 teaspoon fat-free milk

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 slices Canadian bacon

1 English muffin, split and toasted

2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat cheddar


In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Divide between two 10 oz. microwave-safe custard cups, sprayed with nonstick spray. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 20 seconds. Stir. Microwave 20 – 25 seconds longer or until center of egg is almost set.

Place a slice of bacon on each muffin half. Top with egg and sprinkle with cheese. Microwave for 10 – 13 seconds until cheese is melted. Let stand 30 seconds before serving.