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Safe Food Handling

Safe Food Handling

Many general rules for safe food handling are the same in a food service setting and in the home.

In a food service operation, however, the degree of risk is higher because of the greater number of eggs involved and because more people participate in handling and preparation. In addition, many eggs are often improperly pooled (broken together in large containers) and allowed to stand at room temperature for a considerable time. In such cases, a few organisms from one egg can quickly multiply. Then, if eggs from that batch are not completely cooked or are kept warm at improper temperatures for too long, the bacteria will multiply even further.

In the home, these particular risks are not as great. Shell eggs are safest when properly prepared in individual dishes and promptly eaten.


1️⃣  Refrigeration, the first step in proper egg handling, retards bacterial growth and maintains the quality of the egg.

  • At the retail level, buy eggs only from refrigerated cases and refrigerate them in cartons on an inside shelf as soon as possible after purchase.

  • Today’s home refrigerators are designed to maintain a temperature of 5°C (40°F) or below, a satisfactory temperature for eggs and other perishable foods.

  • Keep shell eggs, broken-out eggs or egg mixtures refrigerated before and after cooking.

  • Do not leave eggs in any form at room temperature for more than one hour, including preparation and serving.

  • Promptly after serving, refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers so they will cool quickly.

  • For picnics and outdoor parties, pack cold egg dishes with ice or commercial coolant in an insulated cooler or bag.

2️⃣  Cleanliness of hands, utensils and work surfaces is essential in preventing cross-contamination.

  • Use only clean, unbroken eggs. Discard dirty or broken eggs.

  • Avoid mixing the shell with the egg’s contents.

  • Before they are packed, U.S. eggs are washed and sanitized. The process should remove most pathogenic bacteria from the surface of the shell, but some might remain in the pores or the shell might be re-infected from other sources. The U.S. is one of the few countries in the world that washes and sanitizes its eggs.

  • Eggs should not be rewashed before use.

  • An inexpensive egg separator can be used to separate yolks and whites so that contents do not come in contact with the shells. If a bit of shell falls into the broken out contents, remove it with a clean utensil.

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before beginning food preparation.

  • Wash hands again, along with all utensils, equipment and countertops that have been in contact with any raw food before preparing other foods.

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked foods. Wash and sanitize them thoroughly after each use.

3️⃣    Adequate cooking ensures that eggs dishes reach a temperature high enough to destroy any bacteria which may be present.

  • Although there are visual indications for determining the doneness of many cooked dishes, the signs are sometimes difficult to interpret, particularly for inexperienced cooks.

  • For some foods, the internal temperature is a critical safety factor that can be determined only by actual measurement. A relatively inexpensive quick-read thermometer allows you to measure a foods internal temperature easily and quickly.

  • Salmonella organisms will not survive if held at a temperature of 60°C (140°F) for three minutes or if they reach an end-point temperature of 71°C (160°F)

  • The internal temperature of fully baked goods and hard-cooked eggs will easily reach more than 71°C (160°F) by the time they are done.

  • Quiches, baked custards and most casseroles are done when a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

  • With some casseroles which are thick and heavy or contain cheese — lasagna, for example — it may be difficult to decide if the knife shows uncooked egg or melted cheese. In such cases, a thermometer is the only accurate test.

  • Soft (stirred) custards are done when the mixture coats a metal spoon. At this point, the mixture will be well above 71°C (160°F).

  • Eggnogs and homemade ice creams, sometimes made with raw eggs, can easily be made safely by using a stirred custard base. Chill well before freezing or serving.

  • Cook scrambled eggs, frittatas, omelets and French toast until the eggs are thickened and no visible liquid egg remains.

  • Poach eggs in simmering water until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken, but are not hard — about three to five minutes.

  • Cook fried eggs slowly until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Baste the eggs; turn them, or cover with a lid to cook both sides.

  • For soft-cooked eggs, bring eggs and water to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand for four to five minutes.

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