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 Egg Product Safety

The Importance of Egg Safety

Unbroken fresh shell eggs may contain certain bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. The bacteria are Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). While the number of eggs affected is quite small, there have been some scattered outbreaks. Currently, the government, the egg industry, and the scientific community are working together to solve the problem.

Egg Product Safety

The term “egg products” refers to eggs that have been removed from their shells for processing. Basic egg products include whole eggs, whites, yolks and various blends, with or without non-egg ingredients, that are processed and pasteurized. They may be available in liquid, frozen and dried forms.

Are Egg Products Pasteurized?

Yes. The 1970 Egg Products Inspection Act requires that all egg products distributed for consumption be pasteurized. They are rapidly heated and held at a minimum required temperature for a specified time. The destroys Salmonella but it does not cook the eggs or affect their color, flavor, nutritional value or use. Dried whites are pasteurized by heating in the dried form.

Can Egg Products Be Used in Uncooked Foods?

Egg products can be used in baking or cooking (scrambled eggs, for example). They have been pasteurized, but are best used in a cooked product. Consumers should be sure that the internal temperature of the cooked dish reaches 160ºF. Egg products can be substituted in recipes typically made with raw eggs that won’t be cooked to 160ºF, such as Caesar salad and homemade mayonnaise. Although pasteurized, for optimal safety, it is best to start with a cooked base, especially if serving high-risk persons: people with health problems, the very young, the elderly and pregnant women.

What Are Some Buying Tips?

  • Containers should be tightly sealed. Frozen products should show no sign of thawing. Purchase refrigerated products kept at 40ºF or below.

  • Avoid hardened dried egg products.

Storage Times for Egg Products

  • Frozen egg products – 1 year if the container for liquid products bears a “Use-By” date, observe it. For liquid products without an expiration date, store unopened cartons at 40ºF or below for up to 7 days not over 3 days after opening). Don’t freeze opened cartons or refreeze frozen cartons that have been thawed. Unopened dried egg products can be stored at room temperature as long as they are kept cool and dry. After opening, keep refrigerated.

  • Use reconstituted products immediately or refrigerate and use that day.

Other Egg-type items

Certain egg-type items are not presently considered egg products. These items, which are under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) jurisdiction, include freeze-dried products, imitation egg products and egg substitutes. Inspected pasteurized egg products are used to make these items. No-cholesterol egg substitutes consist of egg whites, artificial color and other non-egg additives. Direct questions about egg substitutes to the manufacturer or to the FDA.

USDA Dried Egg Mix

USDA dried egg mix is a dried blend of whole eggs, nonfat dry milk, soybean oil and a small amount of salt. (This is a government commodity product, not usually available commercially.) To reconstitute, blend 1/4 cup with 1/4 cup water to make one “egg.” The reconstituted mix requires cooking.

  • Store USDA Dried Egg Mix below 50F, preferably refrigerated. After opening use within 7 to 10 days.

  • Use reconstituted egg mix immediately or refrigerate; use within 1 hour.

In addition, whether refrigerated liquid, frozen or dried, egg products supply an impressive nutritional profile to most processed food products. When properly stored, these processed egg ingredients will maintain a stable shelf life for months. Some of the advantages of further processed eggs include:

  • Assurance of a safe product

  • Reduced risk of contamination

  • Extended shelf life

  • Convenience

  • Consistent performance

  • Product stability

  • Functionality

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