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Egg Safety

Fresh uncooked eggs may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness. This is true especially in children and in the elderly. People with weakened immune systems, like those with AIDS or cancer, need to also be very careful with raw eggs.

You can avoid illness from eggs by following some simple food handling procedures and by taking care to store eggs safely. Eggs should be kept refrigerated and cooked thoroughly before eating. The following suggestions may help you avoid serious illness.

Purchase or buy eggs only if sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Make sure to open up the carton and check to be sure that the eggs are clean and un-cracked.

At home, store eggs in the original carton and in the colder section of your refrigerator (not in the door). Use eggs within three to five weeks from the date of purchase. You may want to write the date of purchase right on the carton, as a reminder.

Keep hard cooked eggs, including dyed Easter eggs, in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Use these hard cooked eggs within one week.

Always wash your hands before and after handling raw eggs. Do not leave eggs out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Don't eat raw eggs. Use pasteurized eggs or egg substitute in recipes that require raw or lightly cooked eggs.

Always keep raw eggs away from ready-to-eat foods. Never place cooked eggs on an unwashed plate or cutting board that previously held raw eggs. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Eggs must be cooked thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may be present. Cook egg dishes to 160 degrees F. Use a thermometer to make sure the mixture reaches the correct temperature.

Serve cooked eggs and egg dishes immediately after cooking.

Wash hands, utensils and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs.

Other Resources:

US Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline Telephone: 1- 800- 535-4555 (Assistance is available in both English and Spanish)

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition/ FDA Food Information Line
Telephone: 1-888-SAFE FOOD or 1-888-723-3366