Handling Eggs and Egg Products Safely at Home

These days food safety is on everyone’s mind. Although the U.S. food supply system is one of the safest in the world many people still suffer stomach cramps, diarrhea, headaches, and vomiting from food contamination. Thus our food supply system is not hundred percent safe and can never be so practically. This requires that consumers should be educated in safe handling and consumption of food products to avoid food contamination and food borne diseases.

In this respect although the risk of contracting food borne diseases from eggs whether they are uncooked or undercooked is minimal, still there is always some risk because eggs are perishable. Egg yolk is a very good medium for bacteria to grow at room temperature if left exposed. Similarly although the egg white has antibacterial properties and is resistant to most pathogens some like Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica and Aeromonas hydrophila can grow in it if left unrefrigerated for long. The following are some tips for handling and cooking eggs and egg products at home to avoid any possible contamination and health problems.

1. When you visit the food store pick up only AA or A grade eggs from refrigerated display cases at the store..

2, As soon as you reach home put the eggs in the refrigerator. There should not be more than two hours gap.

3. At home refrigerate the eggs in their original container and do not wash them before refrigerating. The eggs are already thoroughly washed as part of their commercial processing and rewashing them is not at all necessary.

4. Even if they are refrigerated use the raw eggs with shell withing 5 weeks and hard cooked eggs, whether in their original shell or peeled, within 1 week. If there are any left over yolks or whites use them within four days, when refrigerated. However once broken out the eggs should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. The same goes for egg dishes.

5. Always use only unbroken and clean eggs. Don’t use dirty or leaking eggs. They may cause infection. When you are using liquid products containing egg, store the unopened containers up to 7 days at 40 Ã?°F or below and maximum for 3 days once opened. Don’t freeze opened cartons containing such products as the contents will remain exposed. However unopened containers of dried egg products can be safely stored at room temperature so long as they are kept in a cool and dry place. Once the container is opened they must be stored in the refrigerator.

6. Eggs should not be kept in the open out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. If you are having a egg hunt and hiding hard boiled eggs the same 2 hour rule applies, if they are out for more than 2 hours than don’t eat them.

7. Cooking the eggs thoroughly until the yolk thickens and the white is also firm, kills any bacterial that may be present. So do it every time you cook eggs. Cooked eggs must be served immediately. Cooked eggs should not be consumed if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If you have to keep them for more than 2 hours then keep them hot at 140 Ã?°F or above or refrigerate them. Make sure that small pieces of the shell don’t fall into the egg yolk or white while the egg is being broken. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling shell eggs.

8. Don’t eat raw eggs or recipes that contain raw eggs. Home made products like ice cream, eggnog, Hollandaise sauce and Ceasar salad that contain raw eggs are best avoided.

9. The very young, ill, elderly or pregnant are susceptible to bacteria, so give them only well cooked eggs.

10. Frozen egg products can be stored up to one year provided they have been stored at 0 Ã?°F or below continuously. Frozen Egg products should be thawed either in the refrigerator or under cold running water and not on the kitchen counter. Once thawed they must be consumed. Don’t refreeze again after thawing. Follow the handling instructions given by the manufacturer.

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