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Dairy and Eggs - Food Safety for Moms to Be

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Welcome to Safe Eats, your food-by-food guide to selecting, preparing, and handling foods safely throughout your pregnancy and beyond!

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Dairy and eggs are an important part of a healthy diet. Careful handling of these foods will help prevent foodborne illness. Here's how to do it...

Eggs-tra Care for Eggs...

Some raw eggs can be contaminated with harmful bacteria. Here are some egg safety tips:

  • Cook eggs thoroughly until the yolks and whites are firm.
  • Cook scrambled eggs until they're firm throughout.
  • Cook fried eggs for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or cook 4 minutes in a covered pan.
  • Avoid eating or tasting foods that may contain raw or lightly-cooked eggs, such as:
    • Raw batter, filling, or cookie dough made with raw eggs
    • Eggnog and other egg-fortified beverages that are not thoroughly cooked
    • Homemade and fresh-made dressings and sauces made with raw eggs -
      • Caesar salad dressing
      • Béarnaise sauce
      • Hollandaise sauce
      • Aioli sauce
      • Homemade mayonnaise
    • Homemade ice cream
    • Mousse
    • Meringue
    • Tiramisu

Note: Commercial mayonnaise, dressing, and sauces contain pasteurized eggs that are safe to eat.


Safe Ways to Make Your Favorite Egg-containing Foods!

  • Use store-bought products of the foods listed above, which are often already cooked or pasteurized.
  • Make recipes that call for raw eggs safer by adding the eggs to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, then heating the mixture thoroughly.
  • Purchase pasteurized eggs. These eggs can be found in some supermarkets and are labeled "pasteurized." Here are several types consumers can buy:
    • Fresh, pasteurized eggs in the shell (found in the refrigerator section)
    • Liquid, pasteurized egg products (found in the refrigerator section)
    • Frozen, pasteurized egg products (found in the frozen food section)
    • Powdered egg whites (found in the baking section)

The Chill Factor

Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying, so to prevent the growth of bacteria, keep milk and milk products refrigerated at 40° F (4° C) and follow expiration and "use-by" dates on products.

Be Sure Dairy is Pasteurized!

All milk sold in interstate commerce is pasteurized (heat-processed to kill harmful bacteria). However, other dairy products, such as some cheeses, are not necessarily made with pasteurized milk. These products may be produced and sold locally, such as on dairy farms or local cheese stores. Be sure that all the dairy products you consume are made with pasteurized milk. Check the label.

Moms-to-Be: Watch Out for Listeria monocytogenes
Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can be found in unpasteurized milk and cheese made from unpasteurized milk. It can be particularly harmful to you and your unborn baby. For more information, see Listeria.

Smart Talk....

"I haven't heard about pasteurized eggs in the shell until now. What are they and where can I get them?"
Today, some manufacturers are pasteurizing eggs in the shell. Eggs in the shell are heated to a temperature that kills bacteria, but doesn't cook the eggs. Pasteurized eggs in the shell can be found in the refrigerator section of some supermarkets. Read the label to check.

"I've tasted cake batter from a mixing bowl since I was a child. Why is it an issue now?"

The issue is Salmonella Enteritidis, a harmful bacterium that can be found in raw eggs. Tasting raw cookie dough or raw cake batter than contains raw eggs is risky. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one egg in 20,000 may be contaminated. Although the number of eggs affected is small, there have been cases of foodborne illness caused by contaminated eggs. To be safe, avoid tasting raw batter, filling, or raw cookie dough that contains raw eggs.

"Is store-bought cookie dough ice cream safe to eat?"
Yes, it's made from specially-produced cookie dough that's pasteurized, so eat on!

"I love 'queso fresco,' a Mexican-style cheese, but it's often made with unpasteurized milk. Is there a way to make it safely?"
If you enjoy making your own cheeses at home, be sure to use pasteurized milk.

For the recommended cooking temperatures for foods, see the Apply the Heat (PDF: 20.3KB)

For the recommended storage times for foods, see the Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart (PDF: 21.2KB)

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