Eggs provide essential nutrients that are part of a healthy eating pattern. But like all foods, they should be produced, handled, and prepared with care to minimize the risk of food poisoning.
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Eggs and food poisoning
While eggs are usually clean when laid, they can sometimes be contaminated with Salmonella or other bacteria that can cause food poisoning, even if they look clean.
While most bacteria including Salmonella are found on the shell itself, Salmonella can sometimes get inside an egg or it can already be inside an egg when it is laid.
- Choose only refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
- Pick up eggs and other cold foods at the end of your shopping trip so they stay cold.
- While all eggs sold in Canadian grocery stores are graded Canada A, those sold elsewhere (such as at farms and farmers' markets) may be ungraded. Ungraded eggs are not subject to the same food safety standards as graded eggs. For example, ungraded eggs can be unclean, cracked, washed improperly, stored unrefrigerated, or sold in packaging that has not been disinfected. As such, there is a higher chance for them to be contaminated by harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. Check for the maple leaf symbol on the carton or ask the vendor if you're unsure whether the eggs have been graded.
- If you have eggs in your lunch (such as egg salad sandwiches), make sure to include a frozen icepack to keep them cold.
- Don't crack the shell of an egg until you're ready to use it.
- Eggs should be refrigerated as soon as possible in the coldest section of the refrigerator (usually the body of the fridge). Keeping eggs in the carton will help protect them from damage.
- Eggs (whether raw or cooked) should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Eggs that have been at room temperature for more than two hours should be thrown out. Foods spoil quickly in the "temperature danger zone" range of 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F).
- Hard boiled eggs can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Washing your hands and following proper cleaning techniques can help you avoid cross-contamination and prevent the spread of food poisoning.
- Use warm water and soap to thoroughly wash all utensils, countertops, and cutting boards after handling raw eggs.
- Once you've cleaned your cooking equipment, sanitize it with a mild bleach solution:
- Combine 5 mL (1 tsp) of bleach with 750 mL (3 cups) of water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the bleach solution on the surface and let stand briefly.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
- Air dry.
Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before and after handling eggs.
Raw eggs can contain harmful bacteria. Eggs and egg-based foods should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165°F) to ensure they are safe to eat.
Eating raw or lightly cooked eggs can be especially risky for:
Use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs when preparing foods that aren’t heated (such as icing, eggnog or Caesar salad dressing).
Did you know?
Cookie dough and cake batters made with raw eggs could contain Salmonella and should not be eaten until they are cooked thoroughly.
- Refrigerate leftovers in containers within two hours of cooking.
- Eat leftovers within three to four days or freeze for later use.
- Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
What the Government of Canada does to protect you
The Government of Canada is committed to food safety and works with industry to help identify best practices that can be used to help prevent contamination of shell eggs.
Health Canada establishes regulations and standards relating to the safety and nutritional quality of foods sold in Canada. Through inspection and enforcement activities, provincial governments and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency work to ensure that steps taken by producers and importers have been effective and that the foods available to Canadians are safe.
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