Egg and Egg Product Safety

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					 CONSUMER INFORMATION FROM USDA
                                                    Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food Safety & Consumer
                                                                                                       Education Office
                                                                                  (202) 690-0351; Fax (202) 720-9063

                                                                                                        October 1996

                   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
foodborne illnesses.
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.