Making Your Eggs Safe Article -
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Making Your Eggs Safe

The risk of contracting salmonella-related illness is rare. But here are a few quick tips for handling eggs to ensure your family stays healthy.

Egg Storage

Choose Grade-A or AA eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Buy only eggs that have been kept refrigerated--any bacteria present in eggs can grow rapidly outside refrigeration. If the egg carton has a date printed on it, make sure it hasn't passed.

Keep eggs refrigerated. Get eggs into a 40-degree F refrigerator as soon as possible after purchasing. Leave eggs in their original carton in a colder section of the refrigerator, not in the door.

Do not wash eggs prior to storage because that will remove the protective coating applied at the packaging plant

Fresh shell eggs can be kept safely in the refrigerator three to five weeks from the date of purchase, not from the date on the carton.

Handle with Care

As with any food preparation, make sure to wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and raw egg-rich foods. Minimize preparation and serving time-don't allow eggs to remain out of the refrigerator for more than two hours (not counting cooking time).

Serve cooked egg dishes immediately after cooking, or refrigerate at once for serving later. Use within three to four days, or freeze for longer storage.

See our complete collection of egg recipes.

Favorite Egg Desserts

Some recipes such as chiffon pies and fruit whips are made with raw beaten egg whites. You can substitute whipped cream or use pasteurized dried egg whites, available in cake decorating departments.

Another option is to adapt the recipe by using the Swiss meringue method:

  • Place the egg whites with at least 1/2 of the sugar called for in the recipe in a large bowl--whisk a couple times.
  • Place the bowl in a saucepan over (not in) barely simmering water.
  • Beat the egg whites for 3 1/2 minutes (using a hand-held mixer or large whisk). They should be hot to the touch.
  • Remove the bowl from the simmering water.
  • With the mixer at medium speed, continue to beat until the egg whites cool to room temperature and increase slightly in volume, usually about 5 minutes or less. Do not overbeat.
  • Fold the meringue into the other ingredients as directed in the recipe.

See our complete collection of meringue dessert recipes.

To make key lime pie safely, heat the lime juice with the raw egg yolks in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Then combine it with the sweetened condensed milk and pour filling into baked pie crust. Top with meringue. Bake all meringue-topped pies at 350 degrees F for at least 15 minutes.

Simmer small poached meringues in liquid five minutes or until firm. Dry meringue shells are safe, as is divinity candy.

See our complete collection of key lime pie recipes.

Jul. 7, 2009 4:52 pm
thanks for the tips!
Sep. 18, 2009 7:59 pm
What about home-laid eggs? Is there any special care or handling; or info; about home laid eggs? Or duck eggs vs. chicken eggs? All of our eggs are home laid; and we have both chicken and cuck; ducks used for more things with beaten eggs; as it infuses a lighter texture; holds the air better being more viscous than chicken eggs... But is there any difference in handling or bactiria risk; etc.?
Nov. 3, 2009 3:15 pm
Thanks! was always wondering about that!! ;-)
Nov. 10, 2009 5:59 pm
I've always been told: When in doubt about your eggs; put them in water; if they float then dispose of them. If they stay on bottom of pan of water, they can be used.
Mar. 8, 2010 9:43 pm
Thank you very much for the info. about eggs.I am among the eldery and always wanted to know about raw eggs....
Mar. 24, 2010 9:12 pm
I'm always confused about the necessity to refrigerate fresh eggs. I lived in Japan for 25 years and fresh eggs in grocery stores are never stored in a refrigerator - they sit in the aisles with other non-refrigerated food. And I've never heard of any egg-related illnesses in Japan. Why the big worry about refrigerating eggs in this country??
Katie & Jared 
Mar. 24, 2010 9:53 pm
Might'nt info about eggs from the American Egg Board be somewhat biased?
Mar. 24, 2010 10:17 pm
I was in the Peace Corps, and an experiment we did was to take 2 flats of eggs to a hot room (80 degrees during the day). We sprayed one flat with Pam and left the other as a control. After two weeks, the sprayed flat looked fresher when cracked open, and the control flat looked runnier (the albumin had lost some firmness) We ate them all with no problems. I think commercial (unfertile) eggs are far safer than this article indicates.
Mar. 25, 2010 11:52 am
And what of Hard Boiled eggs? How long can they keep if you boil a dozen and put them back in the fridge to eat a few at a time over the next week or so?
Mar. 25, 2010 6:27 pm
I never cook with refrigerated eggs. I always remove them from the fridge until they are room temperature. If I've ever gotten sick, I sure didn't know it.
May 5, 2010 3:07 pm
Here in Brazil the eggs are on the isles with nonrefrigerated food and we don't put them in the refrigerator at home either. I have yet to get sick.
May 27, 2010 7:34 am
While searching for a recipe I found information that said to put the raw egg and lemon juice together first, mix and then let set for a few minutes (approx. 10) to allow the acid in the lemon juice to "cook" the raw egg. Then add the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe. This makes sense to me becaue I know that it works with shrimp and other meats. Also, it will help the mayonnaise thicken. It also stated to use "Real Lemon" juice rather than other juices (including fresh lemons)because the acidity varies in other products.
joe flores 
Jun. 7, 2010 4:47 pm
instead of weaiting too long to boil eggs boil water brake egg drop it in the boliling water and you save a lot of time and it tase just like boiled egg or better
Jul. 23, 2010 7:16 pm
refrigeration is not a "by country" trend or anything. it's slows some bacterial growth / chemical reactions that can lead to spoiling. which is why some people to choose cool/freeze breads, fruits, veggies, sauces, etc.
Sep. 9, 2010 12:31 pm
Refridgeration merely slows down the egg aging process. Grade AA and A are very fresh eggs with thick whites and yolks that sit up on the whites. As the egg ages the whites lose their thickness and will spread out more in the pan. The yolk becomes more likely to break open as the egg ages as well. Refridgeration slows this process. The egg has an air space in it and as it ages this air space grows while the rest of the egg shrinks. That is why fresh eggs sink and older eggs float. As you all know, refridgeration is a fairly new contrivance and it's quite obvious that millenia of our ancestors survived eating room temp eggs that were held at room temp.
Oct. 29, 2010 1:28 pm
In the years I spent on nuclear submarines we would store eggs in a cool dark space for about two months before the were all used up. Some eggs made it as far as three months. They were dipped in wax at the hatchery and never refrigerated except in shipment. The eggs turned slightly green and had a sulphur smell near the end. Then we used them just for recipes with no ill effect. The trick is to make the shell air tight.
Dec. 21, 2010 5:42 pm
Great information, I was always wondering about the "raw egg controversy".
Jan. 28, 2011 6:09 pm
great info, the floating egg works too you really can tell about freshness, sounds crazy but it really works
Feb. 19, 2011 2:00 pm
I was told, if eggs top (size of a nickel) floating in water; they should be OK. Same concept as the floating or bottom of water; but it's still OK if you see a small part of the raw egg sticking up in the water...
Mar. 21, 2011 8:45 am
I was in England visiting family a while ago, while in the grocery store I saw their display of the middle of the store- they don't refrigerate eggs! Needless to say, I will never eat eggs when in the UK!
Mar. 26, 2011 5:36 pm
I raised chickens, here is the deal: Store bought egg, put in cool water, egg sits upright extremely fresh as it begins leaning towards the bottom it is less fresh, by the time it is leaning lower than 3/4 of the way to the bottom, throw them out. Farm Fresh "if" they have not been washed they can stay unrefrigerated for about a month. But, the minute you clean them off to put in your fridge they loose the natural protective coating and begin to age. Farm Fresh I crack individually and smell before I drop it in a bowl with other eggs, that guarantees that you won't be adding a bad egg to the ones you have all ready in the bowl. Hope this helps.
Jun. 8, 2011 9:19 am
The point people here are missing about refrigerating eggs and countries other than the USA: Commercial eggs are processed differently in the US. They are required by law to be washed before sent to market. This washing removes a protective coating that is naturally on them, making them more prone to decomposition and bacterial infestation. This is why eggs in the US need to be kept refrigerated. Thus, home "grown" eggs that are refrigerated will last even longer than even the freshest commercial eggs, since they have the protective coating in addition to the refrigeration to bacterial growth. When I sold eggs, I always told people that they could lightly wipe off their eggs, but not to wash (if deemed necessary) until ready to use. The eggs that are left unrefrigerted in other countries are NOT inherently unsafe- if they have not been washed (commercially) they are safe for quite some time before bacteria would normally be of concern.
Jun. 8, 2011 9:21 am
Totally failed to see that the poster just before me brought this point up already. Thanks, Ailina52, for explaining the protective coating thing.
Jul. 20, 2011 10:17 am
If you crack open an egg and it has a red dot in the yolk, is this ok to use???
Aug. 4, 2011 8:40 am
joe flores - I think that is called "poached".
Aug. 4, 2011 8:40 am
RE. Egg Safety: There are SEVERAL concerns regarding bacteria. 1) There are lots of bacteria (both free-floating and in poop, which often gets on eggshells) in egg laying areas. That is why eggs are washed. This source of contamination can be controlled by the consumer. Most within-date eggs are sterile inside the (unbroken) shell. If the external bacteria is kept out of the food, these are perfectly safe to eat raw. 2) HOWEVER, a bigger concern is that a (very) few chickens' ovaries are infected with salmonella - a serious and potentially fatal disease (estimates are 1 in 10,000 in the USA are so infected.) These chickens were infected before birth by THEIR infected mother hens. ALL eggs laid by such chickens are what I call Infected Eggs. These are riddled inside with salmonella (Salmonella enteritidis), put there inside the hen as the egg was developing (before the shell was formed). No amount of washing will fix these Infected Eggs. These eggs and the associated chickens
Aug. 4, 2011 8:40 am
Bengali - Regarding safety of eggs from your own flock: my opinion is that if you have eaten raw eggs from each of your chickens and not gotten sick, then you probably do not have any Infected Hens. Your eggs, if external bacteria is carefully controlled, are probably safe to eat raw. IMHO.
Aug. 4, 2011 8:42 am
cjtanaka - yes, they are safe to eat. That egg was fertilized (which most commercial eggs are not, but a few slip through) which does not affect the taste, nutrition, other food properties or anything except appearance. Go ahead and eat them.
Feb. 20, 2012 7:28 am
I was wondering if egg beaters can be used in place of real eggs. I am going to make a chocolate pie and it requires 4 eggs and the pie isn't baked. I don't know how I feel about eating raw eggs. Can anyone help?
Jun. 20, 2012 8:02 pm
I've read that free-range hens who eat red worms will not be infected with salmonella.
Jun. 30, 2012 1:01 pm
please no adds or info on e-mail sold or given out to others.
Oct. 13, 2012 4:52 pm
can I freeze the yolks without losing quality? Do not want to throw any out after making 2 angle food cakes. Too many for abatch of noodles.
Apr. 30, 2015 11:15 am
Like cjtanaka, I've wondered if an egg with red in the yolk is safe to eat or use in recipes. On the few occasions that I have found a red spot in an egg, I have erred on the side of caution and thrown them away. Does anyone have a knowledgeable answer as to the safety or harm of using eggs with a red spot in the yolk?
Apr. 30, 2015 11:28 am
After coloring hard boiled eggs for Easter, how long are these eggs safe to eat if kept refrigerated, keeping in mind that "Easter Eggs" may be left unrefrigerated for several hours when hidden for folks to find in an "Easter Egg Hunt"?
Apr. 30, 2015 11:40 am
I live in a suburb where raising chickens is legal. My question is this: When keeping chickens for their eggs only, do you need to have a rooster? The chickens are wanted for their unfertilized eggs only. Thanks!
Jun. 23, 2015 5:32 am
Whenever possible, I used an egg substitute such as Egg Beaters, although I usually use the store brand. These products are pasteurized which makes them safer and of course, because they contain only egg whites, they are less cholesterol. I have found that the cartons freeze well (defrost in the refrigerator).
Jun. 23, 2015 5:39 am
Old eggs? I crack mine into a mesh strainer and let the thin part of the whites drain off before I poach or cook them. No runny, messy stringy whites.
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