A few egg safety tips

The Egg Safety Center suggests that fried eggs should be cooked until the whites are completely set and the yolk is thickened but not hard.

With the recall this week of 228 million eggs following an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning, it’s worth considering a few tips on egg safety:

1) When purchasing eggs, make sure that the eggs are not cracked to avoid contamination. And if you’re buying from a  local farmer, look for eggs with hard shells. Paper thin shells can also let in contaminants.

2) Store your eggs at a temperature of 45 °F or below, and keep them in the coldest part of your refrigerator – not in the door. The temperature in the door fluctuates too much and can cause bacteria to grow.

3) The Egg Safety Center suggests the following for cooking eggs: “It is important to cook eggs thoroughly to destroy bacteria.  While light cooking will begin to destroy any bacteria that might be present only proper cooking brings eggs to a high enough temperature to destroy them all. For eggs, the white will coagulate (set) between 144 and 149° F, the yolk between 149 and 158° F, and whole egg between 144 and 158° F.”

4) Wash your hands thoroughly after handling eggs, touching your pets and pet food, and before cooking or touching cooked food. Wash your counters and cutting boards thoroughly after handling eggs to avoid cross contamination. I also have a spray bottle with a water and bleach solution that I use to spray down surfaces and cutting boards after washing, just to be sure.

5) Eggs are good for 3 to 5 weeks from the time they’re laid. If you’re not sure if your eggs are fresh, you can try this trick:

  • Fill a deep bowl or pan with enough cold tap water to cover an egg.
  • Place the egg in the water.
  • If the egg lies on its side on the bottom, the air cell within is small and it’s very fresh.
  • If the egg stands up and bobs on the bottom, the air cell is larger and it isn’t quite as fresh.
  • If the egg floats on the surface, it it should be discarded.

6) And if you find yourself with a surplus of eggs, did you know you can freeze them? For whole eggs, yolks and egg whites, remove egg from shell and place in tightly sealed container.  Label with the date.  Frozen eggs can be stored in the freezer up to a year.

These are just a few tips on egg safety. For a very extensive list of cautions and suggestions, visit the Egg Safety Center.

You have to understand that Salmonella and chickens go hand in hand, so there’s always a chance for contamination. And because the eggs you find in the grocery store come from commerical egg farms – where the chickens are packed in like sardines – disease and illness are always a threat.

In fact, Salmonella is everywhere. There have been numerous recalls of pet food, and recently the journal Pediatrics reported on the first Salmonella outbreak in humans linked to contaminated dog food.

Personally, we just bypassed the mass production of eggs with our own little flock of 8 hens. If I thought I could raise and then butcher a hen, I’d do that, too. But for now, I’ll stick to the eggs. You can read more about my chickens at ChickenAdventure.com.

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