Eggs are a staple food for many Australians, but they can make us sick if not prepared or stored properly. Eggs are a high-risk food, having the potential to carry bacteria called salmonella. These bacteria can cause fever, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
Salmonella Myths and Facts About Eggs (NSW Food Authority)
The best way to avoid contamination is to follow these food handling and safety steps.
Do not buy cracked or dirty eggs
Since salmonella is transferred from chicken faeces to the outside of eggs, a dirty or cracked egg can have a higher chance of carrying salmonella bacteria. Because of this, it’s safe to check all eggs before purchasing.
Do not wash the egg before using
Washing an egg may cause cross-contamination. The water used to clean it may carry salmonella off the egg and onto hands, utensils, surfaces, or inside the raw egg once it’s been cracked. The best practice is to use the egg straight from the carton.
Cook eggs well
Salmonella is killed at 74 degrees. Cooking eggs to this temperature will greatly increase food safety and decrease the risk of someone becoming contaminated. Check your egg for any signs that it may be undercooked before eating. With that in mind, soft boiled eggs are perfectly fine if the yolk is slightly firm.
Store eggs at the right temperature
Storing eggs in a fridge under 5 degrees will keep them fresh and lasting longer. In addition, keeping the carton out of the inside of the fridge door is the best way to keep the eggs as cool as possible.
Consumption of raw egg
Consuming raw eggs or raw egg products comes with increased risks, but it’s safe to do with proper care and attention. However, eating raw egg products should be done immediately. Otherwise, the raw product must be stored under 5 degrees, and held for only 24 hours.
Extra care taken for vulnerable people
Salmonella can affect anyone, but there is a group of people that can be more vulnerable than others. This group includes pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. While cooked eggs are perfectly safe, this group should not consume raw egg products.
If you would like more information about the range of accredited food handling training courses we provide, check out our online courses here or give our team a call on 1300 662 750. We are always happy to help.