Egg Safety

pasteurized egg cartonToday I wanted to answer some questions that we often receive about eggs.

Salmonella is something that we have heard in the news in recent years.  People have gotten sick from eating uncooked or under cooked eggs.  This includes using raw eggs in recipes for homemade ice cream, sauces or even leaving your yolks runny when making fried eggs.  Your only option to continue to make these recipes is to use pasteurized eggs.  Pasteurized eggs have been heated to a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria but not cook the egg.  Pasteurized shell eggs are now available at some grocery stores. Like all eggs, they must be kept refrigerated to retain quality and safety. Unfortunately pasteurizing eggs at home is not an option. The equipment to pasteurize shell eggs isn’t available for home use, and it is very difficult to do at home without cooking the egg. Liquid eggs are also pasteurized and can be used in uncooked recipes.

Did you know that older eggs are easier to peel? That’s because the air cell, found at the large end of the shell between the shell membranes, increases in size the longer the raw egg is stored and as the moisture inside the egg evaporates through the shell. As the air cell enlarges, the shell becomes easier to peel.  Also just because an egg floats in water doesn’t mean it is bad. As the air cell increases it will make the egg become buoyant. It means the egg is older but it may still be perfectly safe to use. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you break open the shell, whether it is raw or cooked.

Here are a few other tips from the Food Safety and Inspection Service on handling eggs in dishes.

  • Egg mixtures are safe if they reach 160 °F, so homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer.
  • Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting, made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren’t cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
  • To determine doneness in egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles, the center of the mixture should reach 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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2 thoughts on “Egg Safety

  1. I used pasteurized egg whites for a chiffon pie and they did not whip up like non pasteurized egg whites I’ve always used in the past. I used 1/3 cup granulated sugar with 3 pasteurized egg whites at room temperature. Could the eggs have been old? I used clean beaters and bowl as I always have in the past. I’m so disappointed because I was making a pumpkin chiffon pie for company. Thank you!

  2. Mary, Thank you for contacting AnswerLine. Pasteurization “tightens” the egg white or albumen. In order to loosen it and get the whites to whip properly, you need to add a little acid–cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice–after the whites get foamy, about 1 minute into the whipping process. Cream of tartar seems to be the preferred acid and the best results are achieved when 1/4 tsp per egg white is used. Also expect whipping time to be longer but it should work. It is also possible to reduce the amount of sugar by 1/3 to help with the loft.

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