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Ten Quick “Egg”cellent Food Safety Tips

Posted by Lisa Peterson -

This time of year is particularly popular for dyeing and decorating hard boiled eggs. Food safety is important to remember when handling eggs to prevent unwanted food borne illness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates 79,000 Americans get sick every year from Salmonella found in eggs. What can be done as consumers to prevent food poisoning? Read ten tips to help protect against food borne illness.

1. Wash Hands Often. Just like working with other types of protein such as, chicken or beef it is important to wash hands with hot soapy water when handling eggs. Avoid cross-contamination by washing surfaces, utensils, and cooking equipment exposed to eggs.

2. Do Not Wash Store Bought Eggs. When purchasing eggs from the grocery store there is no need to wash them prior to use. Eggs are washed and sanitized prior to packaging.

3. Check the Eggs for Chips or Cracks. Think of the outer shell and membrane of an egg as a barrier to prevent bacteria from getting into the egg. If cracked upon purchase, dispose of egg. Also if the egg is chipped, it is exposed to oxygen allowing bacteria to grow faster making it unsafe to eat.

4. Eggs Should Be Stored in their Original Container. Store bought eggs should be kept in their original container and can be kept 4-5 weeks past the date on the container. Eggs are cleaned and sanitized before packaging. The EXCEPTION to this rule is when hard boiling eggs; do not put eggs back in the original container as this may increase risk of Salmonella. Think of putting cooked chicken back in the package raw chicken came in-Yuck! Store eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator and not in the door.

5. 2 Hour Rule. Eggs should not be out of refrigerator temperature (41 °F or below) for more than two hours, even when hard-boiled. If eggs are used for hiding or decoration, and left at room temperature longer than two hours, it is best to dispose of them after use. One idea is to have a set of eggs for decorating and a set for eating.

6. No Runny Yolk. When cooking eggs, make sure the white of the egg is completely set and firm and the yolk has thickened. With scrambled eggs, no liquid egg should be left when cooking. Egg dishes such as quiches or casseroles should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.

7. Store Hard-boiled Eggs (shelled or peeled) in the Refrigerator for One Week. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends keeping hard-boiled eggs for one week. Once eggs are hard-boiled, label a clean container with the toss date as a reminder. Cooked egg dishes can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before disposal.

8. Hide Eggs in Low Contamination Areas. When hiding eggs, put them in locations away from dirt, pets, and other sources of bacteria to prevent contamination.

9. Know the Symptoms of Salmonella. The food borne illness, Salmonella typically occurs 12-72 hours after ingestion. In other words, you could eat a food contaminated with Salmonella on Sunday and still become sick that next Wednesday. Symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting lasting between 4 and 7 days. Those at a higher risk for severe cases, which can lead to hospitalization, are young children, older adults, pregnant women, and weakened immune systems due to additional illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, or diabetes.

10. Keep Eggs Cold When Transporting. Making deviled eggs for a family gathering? Pack eggs in an insulated cooler and with ice or freezer gel packs to keep the eggs cold. Avoid storing eggs in the warm trunk of a car, but rather in or below the passenger seat.

Looking for more information? Visit the FDA website, "Egg Safety: What you Need to Know," or learn how to make the perfect boiled eggs in a fun 2 minute video with "What's Cookin' with Mary Liz Wright!" Want a new healthier twist on a classic deviled egg? Try a Bacon and Cheddar Deviled Egg recipe. Have a "Hoppy"and "Egg-cellent" Spring!

 

This information is current as of March 2016. For re-publication of this blog or previous blogs please contact Lisa Peterson, Nutrition & Wellness Educator, lap5981@illinois.edu or Terri Miller, Publicity and Promotion Specialist, terrim@illinois.edu



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