Cracking Down on Eggs
Use common sense
Steps to Protect continued...
Eggs that are cracked into a bowl, beaten together, and allowed
to sit also present a risk. "If the bacteria are there, they will multiply
to high levels very quickly at room temperature," says Berry. For this
reason, she recommends cooking eggs within two hours of cracking them.
But bacteria already in the egg don't cause all cases of
salmonella infection. Contamination can also occur in your kitchen.
Salmonella-free eggs may not stay that way if you whisk them with a fork that
was also used to handle contaminated raw poultry, for example. "Remember to
wash everything, including your hands, that has come into contact with raw food
before handling something that won't be cooked," Berry says.
Cook Them Well or Use Pasteurized Eggs
In the rare chance that you do buy an egg contaminated with
salmonella bacteria, there's some reassuring news: Cooking kills the bacteria.
There is no way for you to know at home if the egg is contaminated -- the egg
won't look, smell, or taste different from any other egg, says Marjorie
Davidson, a food safety education expert at the FDA. Because of this, she
recommends cooking all eggs thoroughly: Salmonella bacteria are killed at
temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the FDA and USDA recommend
cooking raw (unpasteurized) eggs until the yolks and whites are completely
And don't forget about dishes containing eggs, like stuffing
and meatloaf. They also need to be cooked thoroughly, says Davidson. She
suggests buying a cooking thermometer. Check all dishes containing eggs to make
sure the temperature is 160 degrees or higher in the center when finished
Pasteurized eggs are available in test markets around the
country for those who want to make, for example, a protein shake containing an
uncooked egg or sunny-side-up eggs with a runny yolk. These eggs have been
heated to 145 degrees Fahrenheit for three and a half minutes. Egg products in
containers, such as Egg Beaters (essentially egg whites that have been
colored), are also pasteurized.
"Pasteurized eggs are available in some areas, but not
everywhere," says Davidson. "If you can't find pasteurized eggs, many
chefs and cookbooks have done an excellent job of converting raw recipes --
like eggnog -- to cooked ones."