Handling Eggs

Eggs are perishable food and must be properly stored and cooked. Follow these precautions when handling both raw eggs and foods in which eggs are an ingredient, such as quiche or baked custard:

  • Avoid eating raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs such as homemade caesar salad, hollandaise sauce, and mayonnaise. Homemade ice cream and eggnog should also be avoided unless made with a cooked, custard-type base. Commercial forms of these products are safe to serve because they are made with pasteurized liquid eggs. Commercial pasteurization destroys Salmonella bacteria.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. This is especially important for pregnant women, and other high risk individuals most at risk for foodborne illness. Fried eggs should be cooked on both sides or in a covered pan. Scrambled eggs should be cooked until firm throughout.

Consumers should also follow the usual safe food-handling practices for eggs:

  • Buy refrigerated grade AA or A eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
  • At home, keep eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible at a temperature no higher than 40 degrees F. Do not wash eggs before storing or using them. Washing is a routine part of commercial egg processing and rewashing is unnecessary.
  • Use raw shell eggs within five weeks after bringing them home. Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within one week after cooking. Use leftover yolks and whites within four days after removing them from the shell.
  • Avoid keeping raw or cooked eggs and egg-containing foods out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, including time for preparing and serving (but not cooking). If you hide hard-cooked eggs for an egg hunt, either follow the two-hour rule or do not eat the eggs. (Or substitute plastic eggs for your egg hunt.) 
  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
  • Review traditional recipes that, when served, contain raw or under-cooked eggs. Replace with recipes that, when served, contain thoroughly cooked eggs. 
  • Serve cooked eggs and egg-containing foods hot, immediately after cooking; or hold for buffet-style serving at 140 degrees F or higher; or refrigerate at 40 degrees F or below for serving later. Use within three to four days.
  • When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing food or leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly. 

  • Article History
    • Revision Date: 6/22/2010

Food Safety Tip of the Day

Marinating mandate

IAFP - cross contamination icon

Sauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods, unless it is boiled before applying. The raw meat, poultry, or seafood may have illness-causing bacteria present on the surface, which could contaminate the marinade. Bringing the marinade to a rolling boil will kill any pathogens that may be present.

Source: Partnership for Food Safety Education


Foodborne Pathogen of the Day

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