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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food

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Assuring the Safety of Eggs and Menu and Deli Items Made From Raw, Shell Eggs

Food Service Safety Facts

Information for Retail Food Stores and Food Service Operations

a collage of images showing eggs in various forms with the text Assuring the Safety of Eggs and Menu and Deli Items Made from Raw, Shell Eggs(also available in PDF, 230KB)

Fresh eggs may contain bacteria called Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) that can cause intestinal infections. Most healthy people recover from these infections within 4-7 days, but they can lead to severe and even fatal illness, especially for those most vulnerable to foodborne disease -- young children, the elderly, and persons with immune systems weakened by health problems. Illness from eggs -- or foods that contain them -- can be prevented by proper preparation procedures and cooking to safe temperatures.

Receiving Eggs and Egg Products

  • star Shell eggs should be clean and uncracked.
  • star Raw shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella must be refrigerated at 7°C (45°F) or below while stored or displayed.
  • star All packages of raw shell eggs not treated to destroy Salmonella must carry this safe handling statement--
    SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: TO PREVENT ILLNESS FROM BACTERIA: KEEP EGGS REFRIGERATED, COOK EGGS UNTIL YOLKS ARE FIRM, AND COOK FOODS CONTAINING EGGS THOROUGHLY.
  • star Accept liquid, frozen and dried eggs and egg products only if pasteurized.


 

Preventing Contamination

  • star Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods. Use clean utensils or single-use gloves to handle ready-to-eat egg foods.
  • star Wash, rinse and sanitize utensils, equipment and work surfaces after preparing eggs or egg-containing foods.
  • star Keep cooked ready-to-eat eggs and egg-containing foods separate from raw animal-derived foods during storage, preparation, holding or display.
  • star Substitute treated eggs or pasteurized egg products for raw shell eggs in preparing such foods as Caesar salad, hollandaise or béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise, eggnog, ice cream, and eggfortified beverages that are not thoroughly cooked. (See minimum cooking times and temperatures opposite.)

Cooking and Serving

thermometer graphic showing the Danger Zone between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit

  • star Cook raw shell eggs that are broken for immediate preparation and service to heat all parts of the food to a temperature of 63°C (145°F) for 15 seconds.
  • star Cook foods prepared with raw shell eggs that are not broken for immediate preparation and service to heat all parts of the food to a temperature of 68°C (155°F) for 15 seconds.
  • star Eggs and egg-containing foods cooked in a microwave oven should be: covered to retain surface moisture; rotated or stirred throughout or midway through cooking to promote even heat distribution; heated to a temperature of at least 74°C (165°F), and allowed to stand covered for 2 minutes before service.

Cooling

  • star Once cooked, eggs and egg-containing foods should be served immediately or cooled from 60°C (140°F) to 21°C (70°F) within 2 hours and from 21°C (70°F) to 5°C (41°F) within an additional 4 hours.

Hot or Cold Holding

  • star If cooked eggs and egg-containing foods are held in hot holding equipment they should be held at a temperature of 60°C (140°F) or above, after being cooked to 68°C (155°F) for 15 seconds.
  • star For cold holding, maintain cooked eggs and egg containing foods at 5°C (41°F) or below.

Added Safeguards for Highly Susceptible Populations

  • star Establishments that serve highly susceptible populations (young children, elderly persons and individuals with weakened immune systems), such as day care centers, nursing homes and hospitals, should take the following additional precautions. Due to factors such as age, medications, compromised or immature immune systems, and various health conditions, these populations are especially vulnerable to foodborne illness.
  • star In NO case should soft-cooked eggs, soufflés or meringues or other foods that contain raw or undercooked eggs be served in these facilities.
  • star As a general rule, treated eggs or pasteurized egg products should be used in any recipe that calls for combining more than one egg ("pooling") and for any recipe, preparation or serving procedure that involves holding eggs or egg-containing foods before or after cooking.
  • star To add an extra margin of safety, in addition to all of the above precautions, buyers can specify that suppliers provide eggs produced only from flocks managed under an SE control program that is recognized by a state regulatory agency or a state poultry association.

Consumer Advisory

Consumers should be informed of the significantly increased health risk -- especially to young children, elderly persons and individuals with weakened immune systems -- when eggs are eaten in a raw or undercooked form. Foods such as scrambled or fried eggs, French toast and omelets are frequently undercooked, while other foods, such as hollandaise or béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise, and chocolate mousse, may contain raw or undercooked eggs. Consumers can be so informed by brochures, advisories on signs or menus, table tents, labeling or other effective written means.

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