- Food, health and nutrition
- Food safety
- Preserving and preparing
- Handling eggs 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, refrigeratedand 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, nauseaand 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 sauceand any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice creamor eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not cooked.
Salmonella can cause intestinal infections that can be serious (or even fatal).Young children, elderlyand those who have a weakened immune system are at an especiallyhighrisk of foodborne illness.
What should I look for when buying eggs?
- Be sure eggs are clean and uncracked.
- Buy eggs that have been refrigerated. If there is any bacteria in the eggs, it will grow rapidly at room temperature.
How do you store shell eggs?
- Store in the refrigerator set at 40 F or below. Keep them in their carton and place them inside the refrigerator, not in the door. The refrigerator door is the warmest area of your refrigerator.
- 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.
- Don't keep eggs out of refrigeration. If eggs are left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, throw them out.
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.
How do you safely cook eggs?
Before cooking,wash your hands, utensils, equipment and work areas with hot, soapy water and wash again after contact with the eggs.
Hard-cooked eggs should be safe for everyone to eat. The American Egg Board recommends frying, scrambling, steamingor 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.
- Steamed hard cooked eggs with shells - place eggs in a steamer basket of boiling water, steam for 12-17 minutes. Cool under running water. Crack and peel.
- Poached eggs -5 minutes over boiling water.
- Soft-cooked eggs -7 minutes in the shell in boiling water.
- Egg mixtures such as egg bakes, quiches and casseroles are safe if they reach an internal temperature of 160 F.
Serving and storing cooked eggs
Serve your cooked eggs and egg dishes as soon as possible after cooking. If you plan to serve prepared or baked eggs at a later time, refrigerate and use within 3 to 4 days or freeze them for longer storage.
Hard-cooked eggs can spoil more quickly than raw eggs. After cooking, cool the hard-cooked eggs quickly under cold water or in ice water. Refrigerate and use them within 1 week.
Safe vs. unsafe recipes
- Homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently to 160F 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 are safe if baked at 350F for about 15 minutes.
- Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites are risky. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped creamor 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 160F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
Decorating egg shells?
If you plan to empty eggshells for decorating, use the contents immediately in a cooked recipe or freeze them. Baked dishes such as casseroles, custards, cakes or breads are great ways to use these eggs. Read more about decorating eggs.
Carol Ann Burtness, former Extension educator; Kathy Brandt, Extension educatorand Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator
Reviewed in 2021
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How do you prevent Salmonella from eggs? ›
Buy eggs from stores and suppliers that keep eggs refrigerated. Keep your eggs refrigerated at 40°F (4°C) or colder, which should be the temperature of a properly functioning refrigerator. Discard cracked or dirty eggs. Consider using pasteurized* eggs and egg products, which are widely available.What safety rules should you follow when handling raw eggs? ›
Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with raw eggs and raw egg-containing foods. Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.Can you get Salmonella from handling eggs? ›
Cracked eggs allow Salmonella to enter and grow inside the egg. However even eggs with clean, uncracked shells can pose a risk if handled incorrectly. Cross contamination can also occur when handling eggs and equipment and benches should be cleaned and sanitised to avoid contamination of ready-to-eat foods.What do you think are the ways of handling eggs properly in order to prevent its spoilage? ›
To enjoy eggs safely, buy clean, uncracked eggs that are within their 'best before' date, store them in the fridge in their carton and cook until hot all the way through. If you follow these basic food safety tips, you can significantly reduce the chances of you or your family becoming ill from bacteria in or on eggs.What are three ways to prevent Salmonella? ›
Keep your food preparation areas clean
Keep raw meat and poultry separate from produce and other foods when shopping for and storing groceries. Wash hands, cutting boards, countertops, cutlery, and utensils after handling uncooked poultry. Wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating.
You can't tell if an egg has salmonella just by looking at it. The bacteria can be present inside an egg as well as on the shell. Cooking food thoroughly can kill salmonella. Be aware that runny, poached, or soft eggs aren't fully cooked — even if they are delicious.How do you store the egg properly and what is its proper handling? ›
Refrigerator Storage: Refrigerate eggs at 40°F or less. Store them in their original carton on an inside shelf and away from pungent foods. The temperature on an inside shelf remains more constant than one on the door, which is opened and closed frequently.What part of the egg has Salmonella? ›
Where is Salmonella on eggs? The bacteria can be on both the outside and inside of eggs that appear to be normal, and if the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacterium can cause illness.How common is Salmonella in eggs? ›
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.Should I wash hands after handling eggs? ›
Wash your hands after handling eggs – wash your hands thoroughly to remove any bacteria from your hands that could have been on the shell, see: Hand Hygiene with Adam Liaw and remember, you don't want to be the one spreading contamination around your kitchen!
Do you have to wash your hands after handling eggs? ›
Handwashing is especially important during some key times when germs can spread easily: Before, during, and after preparing any food. After handling uncooked meat, chicken or other poultry, seafood, flour, or eggs.Why do you wash your hands after handling eggs? ›
"Improper handling and consumption of raw eggs can increase the risk of salmonellosis, a type of foodborne illness. Therefore, it is important for people to wash hands and surfaces often when handling raw eggs and that they cook eggs to the proper temperature."Which is the best method for preserving the quality of eggs? ›
This is the best and most efficient method for commercial storage. Eggs for cold storage must be clean, unbroken, and free from fungus and other infections. A temperature of 0oC or 30-32oF and relative humidity of 85-90% is recommended for cold storage of eggs to preserve them for 5 to 8 months.
NEVER buy or sell cracked or dirty eggs. Bacteria on the outside of the shell may enter the egg if it is cracked or damaged and may grow to high numbers. Check that eggs are delivered at below 20°C. Check the best-before date on each batch of eggs to ensure they are fresh.What is Salmonella and how can it be prevented? ›
Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods, including chicken, beef, pork, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and even processed foods. Some people are more likely to get an infection and serious illness. You can take steps to prevent infection, such as following the clean, separate, cook, and chill guidelines.What are the five ways Salmonella is transmitted? ›
Salmonella is spread by the fecal-oral route and can be transmitted by • food and water, • by direct animal contact, and • rarely from person-to-person. An estimated 94% of salmonellosis is transmitted by food. Humans usually become infected by eating foods contaminated with feces from an infected animal.How can Salmonella be prevented when handling chicken? ›
Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling chicken. Raw chicken is ready to cook. It doesn't need to be washed first. According to a USDA study, 1 in 7 people who cleaned their sink after washing chicken still had germs in the sink.Should eggs be refrigerated? ›
Freshly laid eggs need to be refrigerated immediately. Fresh eggs purchased from a farmers market need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. Per USDA guidelines, eggs should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to help minimize the risk of Salmonella.What temperature kills Salmonella? ›
Salmonella are destroyed at cooking temperatures above 150 degrees F. The major causes of salmonellosis are contamination of cooked foods and insufficient cooking. Contamination of cooked foods occurs from contact with surfaces or utensils that were not properly washed after use with raw products.How can you tell if eggs are safe to eat? ›
The water test for egg freshness
First, fill a bowl or glass with about four inches of cold water and gently place your egg(s) inside. Very fresh eggs will sink to the bottom and lay on their sides. If an egg stays at the bottom but stands on its small end, it's still acceptable to eat; just not quite as fresh.
Why eggs should be handled properly when storing as well as during preparation and cooking? ›
Refrigeration slows bacterial growth, so it is important to store eggs properly. Never use eggs that are cracked, leaking, or stuck to the bottom of the carton. Even when there isn't a visible crack, an egg that is stuck to the carton, even slightly, may indicate that it has leaked; therefore, it should not be used.Should I wash my eggs before cracking? ›
No. It's not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash commercially packaged eggs, and it may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be "sucked" into the egg through the pores in the shell. When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen.Do all chicken eggs have Salmonella? ›
Only a small fraction of the eggs laid by infected hens are contaminated with Salmonella through this means. The hen typically shows no signs of infection but can lay intact and unbroken eggs that are internally contaminated with Salmonella.Should I wash my eggs? ›
Eggs have small pores which harmful bacteria can enter. Even shells that appear clean can carry germs. Even so, eggs do not need to be washed.Are eggs still a high risk of Salmonella? ›
Salmonella also can contaminate the egg's contents while it is forming inside the chicken before shells are formed. Today, a lot fewer egg-laying hens have this problem than during the 1980s and 1990s, so eggs are safer.Is it hard to get Salmonella from raw eggs? ›
Can you get salmonella from eating raw eggs? It's rare, but you can get salmonella food poisoning from eating raw eggs. Luckily, you can reduce your risk of salmonella by following proper food preparation protocols or avoiding raw eggs entirely.Why you should not keep eggs in the fridge? ›
The eggs stored in cold temperature tend to undergo condensation when they are taken out to room temperature. This promotes the growth of bacteria over the egg shell, thereby contaminating the egg and making it harmful for human consumption.Does washing hands get rid of Salmonella? ›
Careful hand washing with soap and water, as outlined in the accompanying handout, after petting animals, using the toilet, changing a baby's diaper, before eating, preparing food, and preparing baby formula, will prevent spread of the disease.Should I wash eggs with soap? ›
Warm to hot water causes the egg contents to expand which helps prevent bacteria from being pulled in through the pores. Colder temperatures will cause egg contents to contract and pull in any bacteria on the shell surface. soak eggs in the water. soaps should be avoided.Can you wash eggs and leave them on the counter? ›
Unwashed eggs have a protective layer called a cuticle and can be stored on the counter. This protective coating helps keep bacteria out. Washing eggs removes the cuticle. As a result, washed eggs must be refrigerated to prevent contamination.
How are eggs washed and sanitized? ›
At the grading station, eggs are washed in a sanitizing solution and scrubbed with revolving brushes to remove dirt and any bacteria that may be found on the shell. There is no need to wash your eggs at home.How long can eggs sit out before being washed? ›
A general rule, unwashed eggs will last around two weeks unrefrigerated and about three months or more in your refrigerator. If you're experiencing an egg boom, it's smart to refrigerate any unwashed fresh eggs you aren't planning to eat immediately.Should egg shells be washed? ›
Shell eggs need not be washed as any process that wets the shell may facilitate the entry of microorganisms. It is not surprising to find bacteria on egg shells since eggs can come into contact with bacteria during release and following exposure to the environment.How do you wash eggs before eating? ›
Wash eggs in warm water.
The warm tap water will draw out any dirt and bacteria from the shell; cold water can cause bacteria to go below the surface of the eggshell. Avoid any cleaning agents such as bleach, soap, or detergent. Eggshells are porous, so any chemicals will pass through the shell pores into the eggs.
Fresh eggs, even those with clean, uncracked shells, may contain bacteria called Salmonella that can cause foodborne illness, often called “food poisoning.” FDA has put regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping and storage, but consumers also play a key role in ...What are the 4 steps to safe food handling? ›
Four Steps to Food Safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill.What are 5 rules to follow when handling and preparing food for service? ›
Keep Food Safe! Food Safety Basics
- Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate—Don't cross-contaminate.
- Cook—Cook to proper temperatures, checking with a food thermometer.
- Chill—Refrigerate promptly.
The core messages of the Five Keys to Safer Food are: (1) keep clean; (2) separate raw and cooked; (3) cook thoroughly; (4) keep food at safe temperatures; and (5) use safe water and raw materials.What are the 2 proper ways to store eggs? ›
Not only do eggs need to be refrigerated ASAP, but they need to be refrigerated at the correct temperature. Make sure your fridge is set at 40°F or below, and keep the eggs in their carton. They should also be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, and not kept on the door, which tends to be warmer.What 2 preservation methods can be applied to eggs? ›
The most common practices used to preserve eggs are freezing and dehydrating. However, it is also necessary to discuss the following two techniques, water glassing eggs and freeze drying. As a poultry keeper and homesteader it is necessary to prepare for the time when egg production decreases and even stops.
Which of the following is a method for egg preservation? ›
The process most commonly used for egg freezing is called vitrification.What are three tips to handling eggs? ›
Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with raw eggs and raw egg-containing foods. Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160° F.What are five safe food handling practices for eggs? ›
- Egg safety.
- Avoid cracked and dirty eggs.
- Take the same precautions with eggs as for meat or dairy.
- Cook eggs until they are hot all the way through.
- Avoid uncooked food that contains raw eggs.
- Consider alternatives for vulnerable people.
This is not a myth; fresh eggs sink while bad eggs float to the top. Simply fill a bowl with cold tap water and place your eggs in it. If they sink to the bottom and lay flat on one side, they are fresh and good to eat. A bad egg will float because of the large air cell that forms at its base.What are the chances of getting Salmonella from eggs? ›
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.Is Salmonella on egg shell or inside? ›
How do eggs get Salmonella on them? Salmonella can get on the shells of eggs when birds lay eggs or when the eggs touch bird droppings (poop) after being laid. This is not a problem for commercial eggs (for example, eggs you buy at the grocery store) because companies wash eggs before they reach stores.Should eggs be separated cold or warm? ›
Test Kitchen tip: Eggs separate more easily when cold, so if the recipe calls for separated eggs, do that when you take them out of the fridge, then let them come to room temperature. Here are three easy ways to separate an egg.Do eggs separate better when cold or room temp? ›
Eggs separate best when cold, so it works best to separate cold eggs and bring the yolks and whites to room temperature separately. Place small bowls in slightly larger bowls and fill with warm water, careful not to let the water run over the sides of the bowls into the egg yolks or whites.Why should you always crack your eggs into a separate bowl? ›
Test Kitchen Tip: Crack eggs one at a time into a separate small cup or bowl before adding them to the rest of your ingredients. That saves you from accidentally adding bad eggs to a batter, spoiling all your ingredients. It also makes it easier to fish out a shell if any does fall in.