Egg safety in the home
Eggs are a healthy, nutritious part of many Australians' diet, but they are a raw food and should be stored and handled like raw meat and chicken, to reduce the risk of illness.
Most eggs in Australia are safe; however cracked and dirty eggs can be a source of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella.
You can enjoy eggs safely by using clean/uncracked eggs, handling them correctly and storing eggs and raw egg products in the refrigerator.
Salmonella can affect anyone, but there is a greater risk of food poisoning for children under two years, pregnant women, people over 70 and people with lower immune system function. That's because:
- immune systems are weaker
- the stomach may have less acid to protect against bugs
- the impact of symptoms can be more severe and
- recovery takes longer.
Symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include headache, fever, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting which can last days or weeks. The effects of this stomach bug can range from mild to severe.
Three rules to remember
The three key rules to remember when handling eggs are:
- Don't use cracked and/or dirty eggs
- Wash your hands after handling eggs
- Refrigerate raw egg products
The flipside – cooking eggs
Cooking kills most harmful bugs that may be present such as Salmonella.
When egg whites are cooked until completely firm and the yolk begins to thicken, foods containing eggs such as cakes, quiches and biscuits are usually safe.
Keeping your own chickens
If you keep your own chickens, follow these safety tips:
- collect the eggs twice a day, especially in warmer weather to reduce the risk of bacteria growing
- throw away any dirty, cracked or broken eggs,and any eggs which may have been in the nest for an extended period of time
- do not wash dirty eggs
- store the eggs in clean containers in the refrigerator, separately from ready to eat foods
- always use the oldest eggs first.
Eating out – are you at risk?
If purchasing food from a restaurant or takeaway for people who are at greater risk, check whether raw or pasteurised egg is used in any of the dishes. Manufactured products from a supermarket or retail outlet will show on the label if pasteurised egg is used.
Myths and facts about eggs
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to eggs. See our to help you to better understand eggs.
Includes material © State of New South Wales through the NSW Food Authority, sourced from NSW Food Authority.