Assuring Food Safety

Any food, particularly protein-rich animal foods, can carry microorganisms that cause disease or spoil the food. Shell eggs without cracks have chemical and physical properties that help to deter bacterial growth. The egg shell and the membranes between the shell and the white and between the white and the yolk act as physical barriers to bacterial growth inside the egg. Eggs are more susceptible to bacterial growth once the shell and membranes are broken, the egg is exposed to oxygen, and the nutrients from the white and the yolk are mixed.

Divert any eggs with cracks, chips or breaks (which encourage bacteria to pass through the shell) away from the food supply. Intact eggs are washed and sanitized shortly after they are laid to remove any microorganisms that might be present on the surface of the shell. A continuation of sanitary practice (with particular emphasis on hand-washing during food preparation) is necessary to ensure that food is not re-contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Food safety control measures include keeping eggs cool and using eggs less than 28 days old. Since bacteria can grow readily once the shell is broken, the practice of pooling eggs is discouraged. Menu items made with shell eggs and cooked in response to a consumer’s order should be prepared for immediate service. For the preparation of large quantities of eggs, pasteurized egg products are recommended. The use of a thermometer when preparing sauces and casseroles will ensure the food has reached appropriate temperatures.

Containers and utensils that have contact with raw egg must be washed and sanitized before being used again, even for the same recipe. Vulnerable populations, such as the very young or the aged, can be protected by using pasteurized egg products.

Eggs should be cooked until the whites are set (completely coagulated and firm) and the yolks begin to thicken (no longer runny, but not hard). Scrambled eggs and omelettes should be cooked until firm throughout with no visible liquid egg remaining. For egg-containing dishes, like sauces and casseroles, cook until an internal temperature of 160° F or above has been reached.

Preparation Guidelines

To ensure food safety, whole eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are firm. Egg-containing dishes, including quiches and casseroles, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F. Scrambled eggs need to be cooked until firm throughout with no visible liquid egg remaining. Egg white coagulates between 144° F and 149° F and the yolk between 149° F and 158° F. Therefore, it is not necessary to cook eggs until rubbery in order to kill any bacteria that may be present.

  • A good rule of thumb is that whole eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are completely coagulated (set).
  • Cook scrambled eggs in small batches no larger than 3 quarts according to rate of service, until firm throughout and there is no visible liquid egg remaining.
  • Pooling eggs, the practice of breaking large quantities of eggs together and holding before or after cooking, greatly increases the risk of bacterial growth and contamination.
  • Never leave egg or egg-containing dishes at room temperature more than one hour (including preparation and service time).
  • Egg dishes for those who are pregnant, elderly, very young or ill should be thoroughly cooked. These groups at highest risk should avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs. Pasteurized egg products are a low-risk alternative for these groups.
  • Hold cold egg dishes below 40° F.
  • Hold hot egg dishes above 140° F. Do not hold hot foods on buffet line for longer than one hour.
  • Always cook eggs and egg dishes before placing on steam table.
  • Do not combine eggs that have been held in a steam table pan with a fresh batch of eggs. Always use a fresh steam table pan.
  • Do not add raw egg mixture to a batch of cooked scrambled eggs held on a steam table.
  • When refrigerating a large quantity of a hot egg-rich dish or leftovers, divide into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.

For more information on egg safety, check out:
Eggs: A Natural for Any Foodservice Operation
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
Egg Safety Center
Assuring Food Safety pdf
General Egg Handling pdf

Egg Storage & Handling

Storage

  • Per USDA/FSIS, store shell eggs and liquid eggs (eggs removed from their shell) at 40° F (4.4° C) or below, do not freeze.
  • Store shell eggs in their case.
  • Store away from foods with strong odors (such as fish, apples, cabbage or onions).
  • Rotate - First in/First out.

Handling

  • Always wash hands with soap and warm water.
  • Take out only as many eggs as needed for immediate use. Do not stack egg flats (trays) near the grill or stove.
  • Use only clean, uncracked eggs.
  • Eggs should not be washed before using; they are washed and sanitized before they are packed.
  • Use clean, sanitized utensils and equipment.
  • Never mix the shell with internal contents of the egg.
  • Do not reuse a container (blender, bowl, mixer) after it has had raw egg mixture in it. Clean and sanitize the container thoroughly before using again.
  • Never leave egg dishes at room temperature more than one hour (including preparation and service time).

Egg Safety Training Materials

Downloadable Handouts

Egg Handling & Preparation
Proper handling and storage of shell eggs helps foster food safety in foodservice operations. Find all of the proper procedures and storage information in this two-sided information sheet.

Download PDF(English)

Egg Safety & Quality
Single-sided sheet lists the basic, essential steps and procedures for handling shell eggs, illustrated with simple icons and drawings. Use for staff training or post on a wall for quick reference.

Download PDF (English)    Download PDF(Español)

“Eggs: A Natural For Any Foodservice Operation” Booklet
All new foodservice booklet. This version replaces the blue, Incredible Edible Egg Foodservice Booklet. This handy, multi-purpose reference includes information on egg nutrition, composition, quality, food safety and solutions to common egg-cooking problems.

Download PDF(English)


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