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How do bacteria, like Salmonella, infect eggs?

Bacteria can be both on the outside and inside of a shell egg. Eggs are washed and sanitized at the processing plant to clean off any contamination of the outside of an egg. Bacteria can also be inside an uncracked, whole egg. Eggs may be contaminated by transfer of bacteria within the hen’s ovary or oviduct before the shell forms around the yolk and white. Scientists have found that Salmonella Enteritidis has the ability to grow both in the egg yolk and white.

Proper cooking and handling of eggs is important to greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illness.  Cook eggs thoroughly until the white and the yolk is firm.  See “Cooking Eggs to the right temperature,” for more details.