Guard yourself from egg related food illness

By ANGELA TREADAWAY/Guest Columnist

-How long are eggs that have been refrigerated safe to eat?

Raw eggs maintain their freshness for 4-5 weeks after purchase if kept refrigerated continuously.

-How long are hard cooked eggs that have been refrigerated safe to eat?

A hard cooked egg, if kept in its shell, can be safely refrigerated for up to one week.

I just realized I left the egg carton on the kitchen counter overnight. Are the eggs safe to use?

Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. After eggs are refrigerated, it is important that they stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria.

-What should you consider when purchasing eggs?

Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Don’t buy out of date eggs. The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight under the supervision of a trained USDA grader.

-What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?

Eggs you serve immediately at home need to be cooked to 145 degrees and if serving in a serving line in a commercial kitchen they must reach 155 degrees.

-How does Salmonella infect eggs?

Salmonella bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed or it may be found inside the egg if the hen was infected. It is estimated that one egg in 20,000 eggs may contain Salmonella. Eggs contain natural antimicrobial substances in the egg white, and all eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Egg recipes properly prepared in individual servings and promptly eaten are rarely a problem.

Inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking are all factors that have contributed to disease outbreaks.

Salmonella is destroyed by heat.

Eggs that have been handled and cooked properly should not cause human illness.

Angela Treadaway is the Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety/Preservation and Preparation with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System She can be reached at 410-3696.