The nutrients that make eggs a high-quality food for humans are also a good growth medium for bacteria. Eggs, and other animal protein foods, provide a ready supply of both food and moisture for bacterial growth that may occur unless the food is chilled, cooked, or otherwise preserved. All foods, including eggs, can carry micro-organisms or chemical agents that may cause illness when consumed. Safe food handling practices can prevent growth of bacteria to ward off the possibility of foodborne illness.
What is foodborne illness?
The way food is processed and prepared is important because all foods have the ability to carry microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) or toxins that can cause illness. If microorganisms or toxins are introduced to food or if bacteria are allowed to grow in or on food without being killed (usually by heat) before eating, foodborne illness can result. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and headache.
How safe are eggs?
The risk of getting a foodborne illness from eggs is very low. However, the nutrients that make eggs a high-quality food for humans are also a good growth medium for bacteria. In addition to food, bacteria also need moisture, a favorable temperature and time in order to multiply and increase the risk of illness. In the rare event that an egg contains bacteria, you can reduce the risk by proper chilling and eliminate it by proper cooking. When you handle eggs with care, they pose no greater food-safety risk than any other perishable food.
Foodborne illness can strike anyone. Some people are at a higher risk for developing foodborne illness, including pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. For these people the following four simple steps are critically important. These are guidelines established by the USDA in their Fight BAC® program.
Four Simple Steps to Food Safety:
CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate
COOK: Cook to proper temperatures
CHILL: Refrigerate promptly
Along with the Four Simple Steps to Food Safety, be sure and follow the safe cooking temperature guide. Cooking food to the proper temperature kills harmful bacteria. So Fight BAC® by using a food thermometer and thoroughly cooking your food according to the following chart.
Safe Cooking Temperatures
For additional egg food safety information:
The incredible edible eggTM
Cook It Quick
Egg Safety Center
Fight Bac! - Keep Food Safe From Bacteria