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information to the consumer.
November 9, 2010
A Publication of QVHD
Eggstra! Eggstra! Read all about it
By: V. Deborah Culligan, RN, MPH,
Deputy Director QVHD
A large outbreak of the
disease Salmonella, caused by eating contaminated eggs occurred in the
United States recently. From May 1 to September 14, 2010, there were
over 1600 reported cases of Salmonella Enteritidis infections associated
with this outbreak. Connecticut was spared from this outbreak, however,
each year, many cases of Salmonella do occur in our state. Eggs are (and
have been for a long time) a potential source of this disease. If you
are a person who doesn't prepare your eggs properly or uses raw eggs in
your recipes (or eats the raw cookie dough!) you have been lucky so far
if you have never contracted Salmonella, the most common form of illness
from improperly cooked eggs. Not heeding proper food handling procedures
leaves you open to food borne illness.
We are heading into an open season on eating; a time of buffets,
holiday meals, party festivities, homemade goodies and eating out. Egg
safety should be followed at all times, but during this season you
should take egg-stra care when handling eggs.
There are some general Egg Rules that you should follow:
- Keep eggs refrigerated at 45 0 F or less.
- Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
- Wash hands and all other food contact surfaces with soap and
water after contact with raw eggs (including the shells.) Then
disinfect the food contact surfaces using a sanitizing agent, such
- Prepared eggs and egg dishes should not be left out for more
than two hours. (One hour if it is a hot day.)
- Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods promptly.
- Avoid eating raw eggs (that includes cookie dough and cake
- When buying eggs, purchase from refrigerated sources.
Open the carton and check for cracked eggs. Shells should be clean.
Refrigerate your eggs promptly.
- When cooking eggs, thorough cooking is an essential step
in making sure eggs are safe to eat. Scrambled eggs should be cooked
until firm (not runny.) Fried, poached, boiled or baked eggs should
be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm. Egg mixtures,
such as casseroles, should be cooked until the center of the mixture
reaches 160 0 F.
- Cooking with eggs: The use of raw eggs in a food that
will not be cooked (such as homemade eggnog or homemade ice cream,
sauces, meringues or chiffons) is a dangerous practice. Instead,
substitute pasteurized eggs or egg products. Some foods such as dry
meringue shells, divinity candy and 7-minute frosting are safe, but
frosting/icing recipes that use uncooked eggs or egg whites are not
safe if they are not cooked. Meringues on pies should be baked at
350 0 F for about 15 minutes. If you do not want to use pasteurized
egg products, you can make eggs safe to eat by heating the eggs in
one of the recipe's other liquids over low heat, stirring constantly
until the mixture reaches a temperature of 160 0 F. Note: adding
alcohol, such as rum, to homemade eggnog (or other foods) cannot be
relied upon to kill bacteria and make a food safe.
- Use caution when eating out. You may not know that certain food
items can contain raw eggs. Traditional recipes for Hollandaise
sauce, Bernaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing use raw eggs. Ask how
the item has been prepared if you are eating out. Pasteurized eggs
should be used.
What are egg products? Egg products are eggs that are removed from
their shells for processing. The processing of egg products includes
breaking eggs, filtering, mixing, stabilizing, blending, pasteurizing,
cooling, freezing or drying and packaging. This is done at US Department
of Agriculture-inspected facilities. Egg products include whole eggs,
whites, yolks and various blends with or without non-egg ingredients
that are processed and pasteurized and may be available in liquid,
frozen or dried forms. The pasteurization process allows for the
destruction of Salmonella, but it doesn't cook the eggs or affect their
color, flavor, nutritional value or use. When you purchase egg products,
purchase those that bear the USDA inspection mark. Make sure containers
are tightly sealed. Frozen products should show no signs of thawing.
Dried egg products should not be caked or hardened. ( All of the above
information on egg safety has been taken from the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) website, the
website and from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.)
Salmonella is not a nice gift to get during the holiday season. For
some, the very young, the elderly and those with severe illnesses,
Salmonella can be very devastating. Those in certain professions may be
restricted from working (food handlers, health care workers and day care
workers.) Young children may not be able to return to day care for a
long period of time. During this holiday eating adventure (and
throughout the year) be sure to use care when handling and cooking with
District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) wishing
to receive an information packet on egg safety, can call Quinnipiack
Valley Health District, 203 248-4528 or request on line,
|An Ounce of Prevention is a
publication of the Quinnipiack Valley Health District, located at
1151 Hartford Turnpike, North Haven, CT 06473. Telephone:
248-4528. An Ounce of Prevention is
written by V. Deborah Culligan. The articles are published in the following local newspapers, The Advisor &
The content is provided as health education and
information to help you make health decisions. It is not intended to
be legal or medical advice, or substitute for recommendations made
by your health care provider. Address all comments to the district