Egg safety for businesses

People who operate food businesses in the Northern Territory must ensure that eggs are stored, handled and prepared correctly to minimise the risk of food-borne illnesses.

How to store eggs

You can store eggs safely by:

  • refrigerating whole eggs to extend their shelf life, inhibit growth of harmful bacteria and protect the eggs from damage
  • keeping them separated from other food and below any cooked or ready to eat foods in the fridge
  • using them before recommended date shown on the outside of the carton or packaging
  • using egg products, such as sauces or mayonnaise straight away.

How to handle eggs

You can make sure you handle eggs safely by:

  • washing your hands with soap and drying them with paper towel before and after touching eggs
  • avoiding handling eggs unnecessarily
  • not washing eggs to clean them, as this can let bacteria pass through the shell
  • disposing of dirty or cracked eggs
  • minimising contact between the shell and the egg contents when breaking eggs
  • using an egg separator to separate eggs rather than using your hands or the shell
  • keeping raw eggs away from cooked and ready to eat foods
  • ensuring all food surfaces, equipment and mixing bowls used in the process of mixing raw egg are cleaned and sanitised after use
  • using individual, clean containers for each batch of an egg product
  • not topping up bowls of sauces or mayonnaise.

How to cook eggs

You should take precautions when cooking eggs to ensure they are safe to eat, including:

  • avoiding eating raw eggs and uncooked or partly cooked foods made with raw eggs
  • cooking eggs to an adequate temperature will kill harmful bacteria
  • cooking eggs until all parts are firm and not runny
  • boiling eggs for seven to nine minutes to ensure the yolk becomes firm
  • serving hot dishes containing eggs straight away
  • quickly cooling egg dishes that are not being eaten straight away, then refrigerating
  • reheating food containing eggs thoroughly, so that it is piping hot.

Raw egg products

Food made with raw eggs may contain bacteria which can cause illness. 

Particular care needs to be taken if preparing and serving these dishes, by:

  • consuming the food immediately after preparation
  • or storing the food in the fridge and using within 24 hours.

Vulnerable groups

All consumers are advised to avoid eating foods made with raw or partly cooked eggs. 

Some groups of people are particularly vulnerable to food-borne illness from raw egg products. 

These groups are:

  • children
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • people whose health is compromised.

Foods containing raw or partly cooked egg

People in vulnerable groups should avoid eating food that contains raw or partly cooked egg, including: 

  • sauces or dressings such as mayonnaise, bearnaise and hollandaise sauces
  • ice-cream and gelato made fresh on site
  • desserts made without cooking, such as cheesecake, mousses and tiramisu
  • lightly cooked foods such as custard or meringue
  • uncooked pancake batter, cake mix, pastry or biscuit dough
  • drinks such as eggnog or health shakes containing raw eggs.

Alternatives to raw egg

Food businesses should consider using pasteurised egg pulp or powdered egg instead of egg that is uncooked or partly cooked.

Use of commercially produced products such as mayonnaise, sauces, salad dressings and pre-packaged desserts is recommended.

For more information contact Environmental Health.

Last updated: 21 September 2015

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