Keeping your egg safe from the store to your plate
May 12, 2015

Eggs have been carefully handled on farms and egg processing plants to ensure safety. Follow these tips to keep them safe from the store to your plate.

 

 

Eggs have been carefully handled on farms and egg processing plants to ensure safety. Follow these tips to keep them safe from the store to your plate.

When you shop for eggs, make sure you always purchase eggs from a refrigerated case, choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells, check the expiration date, look for the USDA grade shield or mark, and choose the size most useful for your lifestyle.

 Once you’ve got your eggs home, you should keep them in the coldest part of your refrigerator, in their original carton in case you need to look at the Julian or expiration date. Temperature fluctuation is critical to egg safety. Eggs are required by FDA to be refrigerated on the farm as soon as possible. It is important to maintain refrigeration. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating possible growth of bacteria that could contaminate the egg. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than two hours.

As long are they are kept in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or lower, fresh shell eggs are safe to be consumed four to five weeks beyond the carton’s Julian date. It’s not necessary or recommended to wash eggs after purchasing them from a grocery store. At the egg processing plant, government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized before being packed and packaged for the store. Do not reuse egg cartons, as eggs have been washed and sanitized before being packed in clean, brand new cartons to eliminate bacteria that may be present on the egg shell.

Bacteria can enter through cracks in the shell, so if your eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover it tightly, keep refrigerated and use within two days. To prevent cross-contamination, separate raw meat, seafood, eggs and poultry from other foods. Also wash all hands, utensils and surfaces with warm soapy water before and after handling raw eggs.

The last step to ensure the safety of your eggs is cooking them to the proper temperature. Adequate cooking brings eggs to a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that might be present in the egg yolk or egg white. Always cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm. Egg white coagulates between 144 and 149 degrees Fahrenheit (F), egg yolk coagulates between 149 and 158 degrees F, and whole eggs between 144 and 158 degrees F.

After you properly cook your eggs, most likely you and your guest will eat them up immediately.  In the unlikely event of leftovers, promptly refrigerate after serving. Thoroughly reheat leftovers and eat them within two to three days.

For more information on egg safety, you can visit the Egg Safety Center, Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or email questions to info@eggsafety.org.