Egg facts for National Egg Month

May is National Egg Month, a month to celebrate these important sources of protein and the people who bring them to our breakfast plates.

Whether you use eggs for a sunny-side-up meal to kick off the day, to bake a cake, to poach in your instant ramen bowl or whatever you prefer, here are some food safety facts for eggs:

  • Bacteria, especially Salmonella, can find a cozy home in eggs. You can reduce your chances of food poisoning via egg by using pasteurized eggs and egg products.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly before eating. The yolk and the white should both be firm. Dishes containing eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160°F.
  • If you live in the U.S., Japan, Australia or another country where large poultry operations are required to wash their eggs, you should store eggs in the refrigerator at under 40°F. Washing eggs removes a protective layer that can keep bacteria from permeating the shell. If you live in Europe or a region where producers don’t wash eggs, it’s safer to not refrigerate your eggs because, when refrigerated, condensation might form — creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
  • Is there an odd-egg-out in your carton that looks dirty or cracked? Better toss it out.
  • Wash anything that comes into contact with raw eggs, including countertops, utensils, dishes and cutting boards with soap and water. Don’t forget to wash your hands, too.

Tips for backyard poultry eggs

If you’re one of the growing number of people who have put a chicken coop in the backyard, here are some food safety tips just for you.

  • Always wash your hands after handling eggs, birds and their environments.
  • Keep the coop squeaky clean. Be sure to wash the floor, nests and perches on a regular basis, so bacteria there can’t contaminate the eggs.
  • Have a separate area for washing feed and water dishes. Don’t wash them in the kitchen where you prepare your own food.
  • Collect eggs frequently. The less time they spend in the coop, the less time they spend running the risk of contamination or breakage.
  • Remove dirt and debris from eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush, or cloth.

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