Using Eggs for Special Occasions

1. What’s the best way to safely pack eggs for camping trips, picnics, and other outdoor activities?

When taking raw eggs or hard-cooked eggs on outings, leave them in their shells. Pack eggs, including cold dishes like deviled eggs, in an insulated bag or cooler with ice or freezer packs. Put the cooler in the shade and open as infrequently as possible to help keep these eggs at 40° F or lower. The foods will stay refrigerator-cold as long as the ice lasts. For warm egg-containing dishes, use thermal containers to keep the food hot (140° F or higher). For hiking, backpacking, camping and boating, when refrigeration facilities aren’t available, buy dried eggs from supermarkets or sporting goods stores and reconstitute with purified water. Coating shell eggs with petroleum jelly or wax is not a suitable substitute for refrigeration.

2. Once I’ve cooked an egg dish, can I leave it out for buffet serving?

While proper cooking destroys any bacteria that may have been present in an egg, an egg dish may be cross-contaminated after cooking by people, other foods, cooking utensils or equipment. If a dish is contaminated, bacteria will multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140°F. Promptly serve eggs and dishes containing eggs after cooking. If you are serving buffet style, use ice or freezer packs with commercial coolant to keep cold foods cold (40°F or lower.) Use food warmers or thermal containers to keep foods hot (140°F or higher.) Serve buffet foods in small dishes and replenish with fresh dishes often, rather than leaving foods at room temperature where bacteria can thrive.