Egg Safety - Prevent Salmonella

More than 500 million eggs were recalled in August 2010 after health officials traced salmonella bacteria to two specific egg producers. The contaminated eggs were linked to an outbreak of Salmonella that sickened more than 1,500 people. Although retail establishments cannot prevent the original contamination of shell eggs, measures can be taken to reduce the growth of bacteria, prevent cross-contamination and advise consumers of the dangers of raw eggs.

Reduce growth of bacteria
Salmonella is a temperature-sensitive bacterium. Specific requirements in the Chester County Food Code address temperature sensitivity and must be followed during the preparation and storage of eggs and egg dishes in a public food service facility. Eggs must be delivered in refrigerated equipment that maintains an ambient temperature of 45°F or less. The internal temperature of shell eggs must then be maintained at 45°F or less in the facility (most other potentially hazardous food must be kept at 41°F or less). Maintaining eggs at this temperature will inhibit growth of bacteria. Do not leave large amounts of eggs out at the grill, even during a busy breakfast rush.

Cross Contamination
While working with eggs, be mindful that cross-contamination can occur even when preparing properly cooked eggs. Take the following precautions:

Wash hands thoroughly after cracking or handling raw eggs. Avoid pooling eggs in one bowl for preparation of individual orders as this increases the risk of uncontaminated eggs becoming contaminated. Break eggs at the time the order is placed, not beforehand. For scrambled eggs, mix with utensils that are washed, rinsed, and sanitized after each order.

Consumer Advisory
Salmonella enteritidis can be destroyed by proper cooking: 145°F for 15 seconds, however, many customers request undercooked eggs (sunny side up, over easy, etc). Raw eggs may also be used in sauces, dressings, etc. If your establishment is serving undercooked eggs or using raw eggs in other dishes, you must provide a consumer advisory on your menu.

The consumer advisory consists of two parts; the disclosure and the reminder. First, the disclosure must state that specific dishes are prepared with raw eggs. Secondly the consumer must be reminded that raw eggs can cause illness.
Although the use of raw eggs with a consumer advisory is permitted, it is strongly recommended that pasteurized eggs be used instead. Previously, pasteurized eggs were only available in liquid form, but are now available as shell eggs and can be used for soft-boiled eggs.