How to Safely Handle and Cook Eggs
Eggs are an easy and nutritious part of most people’s diets and may be prepared in many different ways. Used in all types of cooking from simple breakfasts to cakes and salads, meringues and soufflés and as binders and thickeners, eggs are one of the most common ingredients in many professional kitchens. Accordingly, sometimes their usage can become haphazard as a result of their commonplace nature.
When using eggs, it pays to consider the environment they were produced in as doing so may help to promote safe food handling techniques. Eggs are often produced in barns where chickens have limited movement and where their faeces and feathers are in constant contact with the shell of the eggs. In short – this is very unhygienic. Bacteria such as salmonella are known to thrive in these environments. Consequently, it pays to practice safe food handling techniques when preparing eggs for human consumption.
Here are a few tips to help reduce the chances of food borne illnesses coming from your kitchen when dealing with eggs.
- Follow proven hygiene practices when handling eggs to avoid
transferring contamination from the shell to other foods being prepared.
- Do not purchase cracked of dirty eggs as they are much more
likely to carry the salmonella bacteria. If found in your kitchen, bring these
eggs to the attention of the person in charge of purchasing who should then
notify the supplier. Not letting the bacteria into the kitchen in the first
place is the safest course of action.
- If eggs are cracked prior to usage, they should only be
included in dishes where they will be thoroughly cooked.
- If a piece of eggshell accidentally lands in a dish, that
dish must be either thoroughly cooked or discarded. Remove the eggshell prior
to cooking with a clean utensil.
- After handling eggs, ensure hands are washed in running,
warm, soapy water before handling other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Store eggs in a refrigerator in the container they were
delivered in. This will ensure maximum shelf life and allow staff to view the use-by
- Prepare raw egg dishes and drinks immediately prior to their
consumption. If this is not possible, keep them refrigerated at or below 40C.
- Purchase an egg separator. A quality separator ensures
shells will not contaminate the yolk or white when separating the two.
- People who are more vulnerable to food borne diseases
(pregnant women, the elderly and small children) should not be served raw egg
dishes. Their immune systems may be compromised so they may not be able to deal
with even low levels of bacteria.