Keeping Your Eggs Safe to Eat

eggs

Eggs are inexpensive, tasty and nutritious, which makes them so popular. However, they need to be handled, prepared and stored properly to prevent food poisoning. According to the US Food and Drug Administration even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain bacteria called Salmonella that can cause an intestinal infection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that about 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella. FDA has put regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping and storage. But consumers play a key role in preventing illness associated with eggs. In fact, the most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs — or foods that contain them — safely.
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting 12 to 72 hours after infection. Symptoms usually last 4 to 7 days and most people get better without treatment. However, in some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that they need to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated quickly with antibiotics. Certain people are at greater risk for severe illness and include pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

FDA requires all cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to carry the following safe handling statement: 

Safe Handling Eggs

To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. Eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella — by in-shell pasteurization, for example — are not required to carry safe handling instructions.

You can help keep eggs safe by making wise buying decisions at the grocery store.

  • Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
  • Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
  • Refrigerate promptly.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Before preparing any food, remember that cleanliness is key!

  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.

Thorough cooking is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe.

  • Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
  • Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C). Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served — Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples — use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products. Treated shell eggs are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled, while pasteurized egg products are widely available.

Bacteria can multiply in temperatures from 40°F (5°C) to 140°F (60°C), so it’s very important to serve foods safely.

  • Serve cooked eggs and egg-containing foods immediately after cooking.
  • For buffet-style serving, hot egg dishes should be kept hot, and cold egg dishes kept cold.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.
  • Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods, should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.

Storing Eggs

  • Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking.
  • Use frozen eggs within 1 year. Eggs should not be frozen in their shells. To freeze whole eggs, beat yolks and whites together. Egg whites can also be frozen by themselves.
  • Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within 3 to 4 days. When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg containing leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.

Transporting Eggs

  • Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold.
  • Don’t put the cooler in the trunk — carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.
  • If taking cooked eggs to work or school, pack them with a small frozen gel pack or a frozen juice box.

Taking steps to handle, prepare and store eggs is critical to preventing food poisoning.

Source: USDA

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Eating Healthy in 2015…Recipe#1

For those of us who resolved to eat healthier in 2015, here is a recipe that looks interesting, tastes good, is inexpensive to make, doesn’t take much time to prepare and is good for you.

The recipe is courtesy of What’s  Cooking, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Eggs over Kale and Sweet Potato Grits

recipe

A modern twist on a Southern classic, this recipe for a baked breakfast dish features eggs and grits with sweet potatoes and kale.

Cook time: 45 minutes                                  Makes: 4 Servings

 Ingredients

1 large sweet potato (orange flesh)
2 cups fresh kale (chopped)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup non-fat milk
3/4 cup grits (quick cooking)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs

   Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

2. Coat 4 individual soufflé dishes with 1 tsp vegetable oil.

3. Make 3-4 slits in sweet potatoes; cook in microwave until just soft.

4. When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel, cut into chunks, and puree in food processor.

5. Heat remaining vegetable oil in sauce pan, and sauté kale about 5 minutes.

6. In a medium sauce pan, boil water and milk, add grits and sweet potatoes; cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sauteéd kale.

7. Divide grits mixture evenly among 4 soufflé dishes (or place all in casserole dish).

8. Make 4 depressions in the grits mixture with the back of a large spoon. Carefully break one egg into each hollow.

9. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until eggs are cooked. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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From Those in the Know about Cookie Making

The Partnership for Food Safety Education sends the following message about a favorite Christmas tradition…cookie making.

cookie

Resist Temptation: Don’t Eat Raw Cookie Dough!

 

As gooey and delicious as it might look, eating raw cookie dough could make you very sick. When handling raw cookie dough, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Do not eat raw cookie dough or any other raw batter that contains raw eggs.
  • Follow directions on packaged dough for cooking temperatures and times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough and batter products.
  • Always keep raw foods separate from other foods to prevent cross contamination.
  • Chill batter and dough if you are not using it right away.
Cookie Coloring Page for Kids
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Reducing the Risks of Salmonella Poisoning from Eggs

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests the following to keep you and your family safe from Salmonella poisoning from contaminated eggs.

eggsEggs are one of nature’s most nutritious and economical foods.

A type of bacterium, Salmonella, can be on both the outside and inside of eggs that appear to be normal, and if the eggs are eaten raw or lightly cooked, the bacterium can cause illness.

Eggs, poultry, meat, milk, and other foods are safe when handled properly. Shell eggs are safest when stored in the refrigerator, individually and thoroughly cooked, and promptly consumed after cooking. The larger the number of Salmonella bacteria present in the egg, the more likely the egg is to cause illness. Keeping eggs adequately refrigerated prevents any Salmonella present in the eggs from growing to higher numbers, so eggs should be refrigerated until they are needed.

Cooking reduces the number of bacteria present in an egg; however, a lightly cooked egg with a runny egg white or yolk still poses a greater risk than a thoroughly cooked egg. Lightly cooked egg whites and yolks have both caused outbreaks of SE infections. Cooked eggs should be consumed promptly and not be held in the temperature range of 40 to 140°F for more than 2 hours.

Tips:

  1. Like other foods, keep eggs refrigerated at 40° F (4° C) at all times. Buy eggs only from stores or other suppliers that keep them refrigerated.
  2. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  3. Wash hands and all food contact surface areas (counter tops, utensils, dishes, and cutting boards) with soap and water after contact with raw eggs. Then disinfect the food contact surfaces using a sanitizing agent, such as bleach, following label instructions.
  4. Eggs should be thoroughly cooked until both the yolk and white are firm. Recipes containing eggs mixed with other foods should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
  5. Eat eggs promptly after cooking. Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  6. Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods promptly.
  7. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or lightly cooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing) that would result in consumption of raw or lightly cooked eggs.
  8. Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided, especially by young children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness.
  9. Consumers can consider buying and using pasteurized shell eggs, which are available for purchase from certain stores and suppliers.

How Will I Know if I have a Salmonella Infection from Eggs or Any Other Contaminated food?

A person infected with Salmonella usually has a fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without antibiotic treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and the person may be ill enough to require hospitalization.

 

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