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Handling Eggs at Home

Proper refrigeration, cooking, and handling should prevent most egg safety problems. Persons can enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs if these safe handling guidelines are followed. 

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1. Don't Eat Raw Eggs

This includes "health-food" milk shakes with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog made from recipes in which the raw egg ingredients are not cooked. 

2. Buy Clean Eggs

At the store, choose Grade A or AA eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Make sure they've been refrigerated in the store. Any bacteria present in an egg can multiply quickly at room temperature. Don't wash eggs. At the plant, government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using special detergent. Then the eggs are coated with a tasteless, natural mineral oil to protect them. 

3. Refrigerate Eggs

Take eggs straight home and store them immediately in the refrigerator set at 40ºF or slightly below. Store them in the grocery carton in the coldest part of the refrigerator and not in the door. 

4. Use Eggs Within Recommended Times

Use raw shell eggs within 3 to 5 weeks. Hard-cooked eggs will keep refrigerated for 1 week. Use leftover yolks and whites within 4 days. If eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover it tightly, and keep refrigerated for use within 2 days. 


5. Freeze Eggs for Longer Storage

Eggs should not be frozen in their shells. To freeze whole eggs, beat yolks and whites together. Egg whites can be frozen by themselves. Use frozen eggs within a year. If eggs freeze accidentally in their shells, keep them frozen until needed. Defrost them in the refrigerator. Discard any with cracked shells. 

6. Handle Eggs Safely

Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work areas with warm, soapy water before and after contact with eggs and dishes containing eggs. Don't keep eggs -- including Easter eggs -- out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours. Serve cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use within 3 to 4 days.

7. Cook Eggs

Many cooking methods can be used to cook eggs safely including poaching, hard cooking, scrambling, frying, and baking. However, eggs must be cooked thoroughly until yolks are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160ºF as measured with a food thermometer. 

8. Use Safe Egg Recipes

Egg mixtures are safe if they reach 160ºF, so homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked base. Heat the egg-milk mixture gently. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature or use a metal spoon (the mixture should coat the spoon). If in-shell pasteurized eggs are available, they can be used safely in recipes that won't be cooked. 


Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting, made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. 


Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350ºF for about 15 minutes. Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites cannot be guaranteed safe. Substitute whipped cream or whipped topping. 


To make key lime pie safely, heat the lime (or lemon) juice with the raw egg yolks in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160ºF. Then combine it with the sweetened condensed milk and pour it into a baked pie crust. 


Cook egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles to 160ºF as measured with a food thermometer.

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