Eggs are a healthy, nutritious part of many Australians' diet, but they are a potentially hazardous raw food so should be stored and handled like raw meat and chicken, to reduce the risk of illness.
When eggs are stored, handled and processed safely they can be enjoyed by all.
Egg safety, why it is important?
Egg safety is important because there is always a chance that eggs are contaminated by Salmonella when they are laid. If eggs are handled incorrectly, contamination can spread around the kitchen on hands and utensils and get into food, which can make you sick. For more information on how contamination from eggs is spread, recent egg related outbreaks in SA and the risks and controls for eggs and Salmonella see our Egg safety, why it is important? web page.
Safe egg handling
When handling eggs, there are specific safe egg handling practices that should always be used to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill from eggs. One of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of contamination from eggs around your kitchen is to wash your hands after handling eggs. More safe egg handling tips can be found on the Safe egg handling practices page.
Food businesses need to be particularly careful when handling eggs to prevent the spread of contamination to surfaces and other foods, and then to customers. Specific information is also available for food businesses handling eggs.
Cooked vs raw egg products
When egg whites are cooked until completely firm and the yolk begins to thicken, the eggs and foods that contain cooked eggs like cakes, quiches and biscuits generally become safe. That’s because cooking eggs to 72°C kills most harmful bugs that may be present, including Salmonella.
When eggs are lightly cooked or used raw in foods, bacteria such as Salmonella can stay in the food. If the product is contaminated, is left for long periods of time, and/or is handled poorly people can become ill from eating the product. It is important that food businesses and individuals who like to experiment and cook at home are aware of the risks and controls for raw and lightly cooked egg products. See the Raw
egg products page for more information including examples of raw egg products, how to minimise your risk of getting sick when making and eating these products.
Vulnerable people such as the elderly, children and those with suppressed immune systems should avoid raw egg products.
Keeping your own chickens
When rearing your own chickens it is important to handle the chickens and their eggs hygienically as they can be a source of food poisoning. See the
Keeping your own chickens page for key safety tips for chicken keeping and handling their eggs.
Myths and facts about eggs
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to eggs. See our Myths and facts about eggs page to help you to better understand eggs.
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