Food Safety for Eggs

Eggs are one of nature's most nutritious and economical foods. But, like most food products, it's important to know how to safely handle, prepare and serve fresh eggs and egg products to avoid food poisoning.

Egg Basics

  • Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
  • Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
  • Refrigerate promptly.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Cooking with Eggs

  • Scrambled eggs: Cook until firm, not runny.
  • Fried, poached, boiled, or baked: Cook until both the white and the yolk are firm.
  • Egg mixtures, such as casseroles: Cook until the center of the mixture reaches 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.

Egg Recipes: Creating "Egg"cellent Desserts Safely

  • Homemade ice cream and eggnog are safe if you do one of the following:
    • Use a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer to ensure that it reaches 160 °F.
    • Use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
  • Dry meringue shells, divinity candy, and 7-minute frosting are safe - these are made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. However, avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites. 
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. But avoid chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites - instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • Adapting Recipes: If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, make it safe by doing one of the following:
    • Heating the eggs in one of the recipe's other liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then, combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe. Or use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
    • Using pasteurized eggs or egg products.

Note: Egg products, such as liquid or frozen egg substitute, are pasteurized, so it's safe to use them in recipes that will be not be cooked. However, it's best to use egg products in a recipe that will be cooked, especially if you are serving pregnant women, babies, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Egg Safety at Restaurants

Here are some practical things that you can do to keep you and your family safe:

  • Always ask your server whether the food contains raw or undercooked eggs. If so, find out if the eggs are pasteurized. If not, order something else. Some foods that may contain raw or undercooked eggs include:
    • Hollandaise sauce
    • Caesar salad dressing
    • Mayonnaise
    • Cold soufflés, chiffons, or mousses
    • Ice cream
    • Meringue-topped pies
    • Tiramisu
    • Certain ethnic dishes, such as Japanese sukiyaki or Korean bibimbap.
  • If you order cooked eggs, make sure that they're thoroughly cooked. Scrambled eggs should be firm, not runny. Fried, poached, boiled, or baked eggs should have firm whites and yolks.
  • Avoid eating eggs at a buffet, since the eggs may be undercooked or may have been at room temperature for too long.
  • If you plan to save leftovers to eat later, refrigerate egg dishes as soon as possible - always within two hours (or one hour if it's a hot day).

If you think that you have become ill from eating recalled eggs, contact your health care provider. For more information, see Eggs and Egg Products.

To learn how to reduce the risks of a Salmonella infection from eggs, click here.

Cross contamination is always a risk when handling raw poultry. USDA regulates poultry for the United States and provides the following guidelines which include CLEAN, SEPARATE, COOK and CHILL

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, etc., with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water. There is no need to wash or rinse meat or poultry.  LEARN MORE >>

SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate
Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing. Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood. LEARN MORE >>

COOK: Cook food to safe internal temperatures
Use a food thermometer to be sure!  LEARN MORE >>

CHILL: Refrigerate food promptly
Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared foods, and leftovers within 2 hours or sooner.  LEARN MORE >>