Food Safety Measures for Eggs and Foods Containing Eggs

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, September-October 1993 | Go to article overview

Food Safety Measures for Eggs and Foods Containing Eggs


In view of their possible contamination with Salmonella spp, particular S. enteritidis, raw eggs are a food of public health concern. The following measures should be applied when handling and preparing eggs and foods containing eggs. These are of particular importance in countries where there are cases of egg-borne salmonellosis caused by S. enteritidis.

Public health authorities are urged to increase public awareness about the hygienic handling of eggs and egg-based foods. They should also ensure that food handlers receive adequate information on the food safety measures related to the proper handling of eggs and foods containing eggs.

Food industry, foor-service and catering establishments and retailers

The following recommendations should be put into practice. * The food industry and food-service and catering establishments should develop a safety assurance programme based on the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system.(e) They should also consider using pasteurized eggs, unless the processing or preparation of the food is such that the elimination of salmonellae is ensured and cross-contamination is prevented. * Food-service and catering establishments should not serve any dish containing raw or undercooked eggs. * During transport, distribution and storage, shell eggs should be refrigerated (<10 [degrees] C). It is also important to prevent condensation of water vapour on them. * Egg producers, distributors and retailers should market shell eggs as fresh as possible, particularly when refrigeration is not feasible. They should consider labelling eggs with the "use-by" and/or "laying" date(s). Information regarding proper handling and storage could also be provided.

Professional and domestic food handlers

Food handlers should be careful about the points shown below. * Shell eggs should be refrigerated during storage (< 10 [degrees] C). * If available, eggs already processed for safety, i.e., pasteurized eggs, should be used. Dried egg powder presents a lesser ris of contamination, provided that it is handled properly during storage as well as after reconstitution. * Unless eggs are processed for safety, they should be cooed until all parts reach a minimum temperature of 70 [degrees] C, at which temperature both the yolk and white have become firm. This recommendation is particularly important if foods are prepared for vulnerable groups, i.e., the elderly, infants and children, pregnant women, and persons with suppressed immune systems.

To this end, the following procedures should be used: -- scrambled eggs need to be cooked in small

batches, until they firm (not runny) throughout; -- boiled eggs, depending on their initial size and

the temperature, may require a minimum boiling

period of 7-9 minutes so that the yolk becomes

firm. …

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