Egg safety for consumers
Eggs should be stored, handled and prepared so that the risk of food poisoning is minimised.
Some groups of people should avoid eating raw or partly cooked egg. These groups are:
- 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, béarnaise and hollandaise sauce
- 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.
How to buy eggs
When buying eggs, you should:
- check they are clean, free of visible soil or feathers, and that the shells are not cracked or broken
- buy from a registered food business
- check that the carton is labelled with the name and address of the egg producer
- check that the best before date or production date is shown.
How to store eggs
You should store eggs in a carton in the fridge to extend their shelf life, minimise growth of bacteria and protect eggs from damage.
It is important to use eggs before the recommended best before date shown on the outside of the carton or packaging.
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.
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.
Egg safety tips
You should follow instructions for keeping eggs safe, including:
- storing eggs in the fridge
- using only clean, undamaged eggs
- serving raw eggs immediately or refrigerate for use within 24 hours
- avoiding cross-contamination
- cleaning and sanitising food surfaces and equipment
- avoiding eating raw egg if possible, especially if you are in a vulnerable group.
For more information contact Environmental Health.
Last updated: 21 September 2015