CONSUMER INFORMATION FROM USDA
Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food Safety & Consumer
(202) 690-0351; Fax (202) 720-9063
Egg and Egg Product Safety
Eggs can be part of a healthy Taking Steps at Home 4. Use Eggs Promptly
diet. However, they are Proper refrigeration, cooking and Use raw shell eggs within 3 to 5
perishable just like raw meat, handling should prevent most egg- weeks. Hard-cooked eggs will keep
poultry and fish. To be safe, safety problems. Persons can enjoy refrigerated one week. Use leftover
they must be properly eggs and dishes containing eggs if yolks and whites within 4 days.
refrigerated and cooked. these safe handling guidelines are If eggs crack on the way home
followed. from the store, break them into a
clean container, cover it tightly, and
Concern for Egg keep refrigerated for use within 2
1. Don’t Eat Raw Eggs days.
Safety This includes “health-food” milk
Today some unbroken fresh shell shakes with raw eggs, Caesar salad,
eggs may contain certain bacteria Hollandaise sauce and any other 5. Freeze Eggs for
that can cause foodborne illness. foods like homemade mayonnaise,
The bacteria are Salmonella ice cream or eggnog made from Longer Storage
enteritidis. While the number of recipes in which the raw egg Eggs should not be frozen in their
eggs affected is quite small, there ingredients are not cooked. shells. To freeze whole eggs, beat
have been some scattered yolks and whites together. Egg
outbreaks in the last few years.
2. Buy Clean Eggs whites can be frozen by
Currently the government, the egg At the store, choose Grade A or AA themselves. Use frozen eggs within
industry and the scientific eggs with clean, uncracked shells. a year.
community are working together to Make sure they’ve been refrigerated If eggs freeze accidentally in
solve the problem. in the store. Any bacteria present in their shells, keep them frozen until
an egg can multiply quickly at room needed. Defrost them in the
What Part Carries temperature. refrigerator. Discard any with
Bacteria? 3. Refrigerate Eggs cracked shells.
Researchers say that if present, the Take eggs straight home and store Unopened cartons of egg
salmonella bacteria are usually in them immediately in the refrigerator substitutes can be kept frozen for 1
the yolk or “yellow.” But they can’t set at 40E F or slightly below. Store year.
rule out the bacteria being in egg them in the grocery carton in the
whites. So everyone is advised coldest part of the refrigerator, not in 6. Handle Eggs Safely
against eating raw or undercooked the door. Don’t wash eggs. That Wash hands, utensils, equipment
egg yolks, whites or products could increase the potential for and work areas with warm, soapy
containing them. bacteria on the shell to enter the egg. water before and after contact with
eggs and egg-rich foods.
Who Should Be Call Toll-free For Don’t keep eggs -- including
Easter eggs -- out of the
Extra Careful? More Information: refrigerator more than 2 hours.
People with health problems, the Serve cooked eggs and egg-rich
very young, the elderly and foods immediately after cooking, or
pregnant women (the risk is to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
place in shallow containers for quick
unborn child) are particularly 1(800) 535-4555 cooling and refrigerate at once for
vulnerable to Salmonella enteritidis Washington DC (202) 720-3333 later use. Use within 3 to 4 days.
infections. A chronic illness
weakens the immune system
making the person vulnerable to
FSIS Food Safety & Consumer Education Office October 1996
7. Cook Eggs Egg Product Safety Storage Times for Egg
Hard cooked eggs should be safe Products
for everyone to eat. Those “at risk” •Frozen egg products - 1 year
for foodborne illness should avoid The term “egg products” refers to •If the container for liquid products
eating soft-cooked or “runny” eggs. eggs that have been removed from bears a “use by” date, observe it.
However, healthy persons may their shells for processing. Basic •For liquid products without an
choose to eat eggs that are less egg products include whole eggs, expiration date, store unopened
than totally firm. Use the following whites, yolks and various blends, cartons at 40E F or below for up to 7
cooking times: with or without non-egg days (not over 3 days after opening).
• Fried eggs - cook 2 to 3 minutes ingredients, that are processed and •Don’t freeze opened cartons.
on each side; 4 minutes in a pasteurized. They may be available •Unopened dried egg products can
covered pan in liquid, frozen and dried forms. be stored at room temperature as
• Scrambled eggs should be cooked long as they are kept cool and dry.
until firm throughout After opening, keep refrigerated.
• Poached eggs - 5 minutes over What Are Some Buying •Use reconstituted products imme-
boiling water Tips? diately or refrigerate and use that
• Soft-cooked eggs - 7 minutes in day.
•Containers should be tightly sealed.
the shell in boiling water.
• Frozen products should show no
sign of thawing. Other Egg-type Items
8. Use Safe Egg • Purchase refrigerated products kept Certain egg-type items are not
at 40E F or below. presently considered egg products.
Recipes • Avoid hardened dried egg products. These items, which are under FDA
Egg mixtures are safe if they reach jurisdiction, include freeze-dried
160E F, so homemade ice cream Are Egg Products
products, imitation egg products, and
and eggnog can be made safely Pasteurized? egg substitutes. Inspected,
from a cooked base. Heat the egg- Yes. The 1970 Egg Products pasteurized egg products are used to
milk mixture gently. Use a Inspection Act requires that all egg make these items.
thermometer or be sure the mixture products distributed for consumption No-cholesterol egg substitutes
coats a metal spoon. be pasteurized. They are rapidly consist of egg whites, artificial color
Dry meringue shells are safe. So heated and held at a minimum and other non-egg additives. Direct
are divinity candy and 7-minute required temperature for a specified questions about egg substitutes to
frosting, made by combining hot time. This destroys Salmonella but it the manufacturer or to the FDA.
sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. does not cook the eggs or affect their
Meringue-topped pies should be color, flavor, nutritional value or use.
safe if baked at 350E F for about 15 Dried whites are pasteurized by
USDA Dried Egg Mix
minutes. Chiffon pies and fruit heating in the dried form. is a dried blend of whole eggs,
whips made with raw, beaten egg nonfat dry milk, soybean oil and a
whites cannot be guaranteed safe. small amount of salt. (This is a
Can Egg Products Be Used government commodity product, not
Substitute whipped cream or
whipped topping. in Uncooked Foods? usually available commercially.) To
To make key lime pie safely, Egg products can be used in baking or reconstitute, blend 1/4 cup with 1/4
heat the lime (or lemon) juice with cooking (scrambled eggs, for cup water to make one “egg.” The
the raw egg yolks in a pan on the example). They have been reconstituted mix requires cooking.
stove, stirring constantly, until the pasteurized but are best used in a •Store USDA Dried Egg Mix below
mixture reaches 160E F. Then cooked product. Consumers should 50E F, preferably refrigerated. After
combine it with the sweetened be sure that the internal temperature opening, use within 7 to 10 days.
condensed milk and pour it into a of the cooked dish reaches 160E F. •Use reconstituted egg mix immedi-
baked pie crust. For meringue Egg products can be substituted in ately or refrigerate; use within 1 hour.
topping, bake as above. recipes typically made with raw eggs
For egg dishes such as quiche that won’t be cooked to 160E F, such
and casseroles, insert a knife in the as Caesar salad and homemade
center. It should come out clean. mayonnaise. Although pasteurized,
for optimal safety, it is best to start
with a cooked base, especially if
serving high-risk persons.