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Handling Eggs Safely

Use grade AA or A eggs with clean, uncracked shells.

Knowing how to safely buy, store, handle, and cook eggs - and the foods that contain them - is important. Follow these guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure the best and safest product for you and your family.


Avoid eating raw eggs.

  • Be sure not to eat raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs.
  • Avoid eating homemade Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, ice cream, eggnog, and mayonnaise. Commercial forms of these products are safe to serve.
  • Don't eat dough or batter that includes raw eggs.


Cook eggs thoroughly.

  • Cook yolks and whites until firm, not runny.
  • Use a thermometer to make sure eggs reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Some recipes containing raw eggs (soft custards, homemade ice cream, eggnog) may require higher temperatures. Use a thermometer to be sure you have cooked these products correctly.


Use grade AA or A eggs.

  • Choose grade AA or A eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
  • After buying eggs stored in a refrigerated case, check eggs for cracks and cleanliness.


Refrigerate eggs in original carton.

  • Store eggs at a temperature no higher than 40 degrees F.
  • Moving eggs from their carton to the refrigerator increases the chances of accidentally cracking the shells. You may also transfer bacteria between your hands and the shells.


Don't wash eggs.

  • Most eggs sold commercially have been washed, sanitized, and sprayed to preserve quality and wholesomeness. Washing eggs at home increases the chance for bacteria to be drawn into the eggs through pores in the shells.
  • Extra handling increases the chance of accidentally cracking the shells.


Use eggs within a reasonable amount of time.

  • Refrigerate raw eggs in the shell for up to 3 weeks after purchase.
  • Refrigerate separated egg whites and yolks in tightly covered containers and use within four days.
  • Cover the yolks with cold water before storing and pour the water off before use.
  • Eat hard-cooked eggs, in the shell or peeled, within five days after cooking.


Be cautious when serving eggs.

  • Keep eggs out of the refrigerator no more than two hours total, not including cooking time.
  • If serving time is more than two hours, as for a buffet, serve these foods from small dishes that are frequently replenished directly from the range or refrigerator.
  • To serve eggs and egg-rich foods hot, serve immediately after cooking, or hold for serving at 140 degrees F or higher for no longer than one hour.
  • To serve eggs cold, put them into shallow containers and refrigerate them immediately after cooking to cool quickly.


Refrigerate leftovers immediately.

  • Don't mix leftovers from the serving table with food that's still on the range or in the refrigerator.
  • Use leftovers within four days.
  • To quickly cool large amounts of a hot egg-rich dish or leftover food contents quickly, refrigerate leftovers in small, shallow containers within two hours after cooking.
  • Leave airspace around containers to help ensure rapid, even cooling.


Be hygienic when preparing eggs.

  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-rich foods.
  • Avoid using wooden utensils (spoons, salad bowls, wooden cutting boards) with items that contain eggs.


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