Guest Post By Board of Animal Health’s Janelle Thompson
The parts of an egg that make it so nutritious to eat are also the ideal growing locations for numerous harmful bacteria. Improperly handled or improperly cooked eggs can easily become a source for food-borne illness. By taking few simple steps while handling and cooking eggs, you can keep your family healthy.
Egg safety starts at the grocery store. When purchasing eggs, be sure to open the carton to make sure the shells are not cracked. Although eggs are cleaned before being packaged, bacteria can remain on the egg shell. Cracked eggs have their sanitary “barrier” broken, which could allow bacteria to enter.
When you get home, immediately place eggs in the refrigerator in their carton. And, unless the fridge door is rarely opened, eggs should be stored on a shelf in the fridge so they remain at a constant, cool temperature. Raw eggs will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 weeks after their pack date. Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge up to one week.
Warmer weather means outdoor pitch-ins and picnics. While these gatherings can bring much fun, they also bring an increased risk for food-borne illnesses. Prepared foods containing eggs or egg products should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Food served outdoors in the hot sun should be returned immediately to a cooler.
Cooking eggs to a proper temperature effectively destroys the harmful bacteria that may be present. An egg is properly cooked when the egg white is completely set and the yolk begins to thicken, but is not hard. Food items such as scrambled eggs and omelets should be cooked until no liquid remains.
Another springtime custom, egg decorating for Easter, can pose a significant risk for food-borne illness since the eggs are handled so much. First, be sure to wash your and your kids’ hands thoroughly during the decorating process. If the eggs will not be decorated right after they are cooked, store them in their cartons in the refrigerator. After the eggs have been decorated, place them back in the fridge. If the decorated eggs will be eaten later, be sure to use food coloring or dyes made specifically for food.
If you are planning on hunting eggs at Easter just use the plastic ones. You never know what the eggs may come into contact with while they are hidden outside or how long they will sit unrefrigerated.
Bacteria (or BAC®) is sneaking around everywhere and you never know when he might emerge, so practice good egg safety this spring and keep BAC® away.
BAC® has been so bad about meddling in people’s Easter activities that a website has devoted a whole page to egg safety. Check out more information from Fight BAC™ here http://www.fightbac.org/safe-food-handling/safety-in-all-seasons/130-eggs-tra-care-for-spring-celebrations-.
Eggs are a basic staple to many Hoosiers’ diets, and as long as they are handled and cooked properly they are a great source of nutrition! For variations on a springtime favorite, deviled eggs, see Kraft Food’s Favorite Topped Deviled Eggs. http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/favorite-topped-deviled-eggs-105209.aspx
Enjoy, and do not forget to use EGG-cellent food safety this spring!