Colorado Egg Producers

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In the Raw: Safety Facts About Eggs

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Many Americans love to celebrate summer with backyard barbeques and picnics in the park. Nothing brings friends and family together like beautiful weather and delicious food. Many traditional summer dishes call for the use of cooked and raw eggs. So in the spirit of summer the Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association is reminding Coloradans about egg safety and handling tips to help ensure that everyone’s favorite recipes are safe to eat.

CEP is a membership organization representing seven farms throughout Colorado. CEP is committed to doing what’s right for its community, as illustrated by the regular donation of thousands of eggs to food banks throughout the state. Egg farmers throughout Colorado pride themselves on providing eggs to Coloradans. We are also proud to offer consumers the choice between cage, cage-free eggs, organic, nutrient enhanced, brown and white eggs. You can find locally produced, fresh, wholesome and safe eggs in the dairy case of your favorite Colorado supermarkets. To see video of how chickens are raised in both cage and cage-free environments or to find a list of where to buy Colorado eggs visit coloradoeggproducers.com.

“Making sure our consumers are educated on the correct ways to cook and handle eggs is of high priority for Colorado egg farmers,” said Vince Ruscitti, Colorado egg farmer and CEP member. “As local farmers, we are part of the Colorado community and our focus is the safety and health of all Coloradans. All CEP members have comprehensive, multi-faceted food safety quality assurance programs in place and follow FDA guidelines for food safety. When cooked properly, eggs are always a safe, wholesome and convenient food for you and your family to enjoy.”

Seasoned chef or novice cook, there are safety guidelines that you should follow when cooking eggs. Courtesy of our friends at the American Egg Board, below are some important egg fact-or-fiction questions – a fun way to learn the facts about egg safety.

Fact or Fiction: Some of my favorite egg recipes call for raw or lightly cooked eggs? Therefore, there is no safe way to prepare these recipes.
• Fiction: Although the overall risk of egg contamination is very small, the risk of food borne illness from eggs is highest in raw and lightly cooked dishes. To eliminate risk and ensure food safety, replace all your recipes calling for raw or lightly cooked eggs with cooked egg recipes or use pasteurized shell eggs or egg products when you prepare them.

Fact or Fiction: Other than cooked egg whites, there are no alternatives for raw egg whites?
• Fiction: You can use pasteurized dried or pasteurized refrigerated liquid egg whites in recipes that call for raw egg whites. Follow package directions to substitute pasteurized dried or pasteurized refrigerated liquid egg whites for raw egg whites or use about 2 tablespoons water and 2 teaspoons dried egg white or 2 to 3 tablespoons liquid egg white for each large egg white called for by the recipe.

Fact or Fiction: Raw egg recipes containing acid don’t need to be cooked because acid kills bacteria.
• Fiction: While it is true that acid kills bacteria, counting on acid for total kill of all bacteria is an iffy proposition. Salmonella will not grow in a recipe that has a pH (acid level) of 4.0 or lower and few recipes reach this. It’s also difficult to reach and maintain a specific pH because many acidic ingredients don’t have a constant pH. Eggs themselves increase in pH as they age. Some recipes may test as sufficiently acidic one day and not the next. And, without a pH meter, it’s hard to accurately measure the pH of a finished dish. For these reasons, it’s best not to rely on acid ingredients to destroy bacteria.

Fact or Fiction: Even after an egg has been cooked properly, it is important to refrigerate or keep cold leftovers.
• Fact! Proper cooking destroys any bacteria that may have been present before cooking, but a dish may be cross contaminated after cooking by people, other foods or cooking utensils or equipment. Rapid growth of bacteria can occur between 40 and 140° F. Using cold temperatures keeps bacteria from growing to large enough numbers to cause illness. Salmonella will not grow when held below 40° F.
- For refrigeration, divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers and refrigerate them immediately so they’ll cool quickly. Then, thoroughly reheat them and eat them within 2 to 3 days. Without tasting them, discard any egg-containing leftovers that have been refrigerated more than 3 days.
- For buffet service, like at a picnic or barbeque, use ice or freezer packs with commercial coolant to keep cold foods cold (40° F or lower) and food warmers or thermal containers to keep hot foods hot (140° F or higher). Serve buffet foods in small dishes and replenish them with fresh dishes often, rather than leaving foods at room temperature.

In addition to thoroughly cooking your eggs, follow these simple food-handling practices to avoid food borne illness.
• Clean your hands, as well as the surfaces and utensils that comes into contact with raw eggs – an important step for avoiding cross-contamination.
• Separate eggs from other foods in your grocery cart, grocery bags and in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.
• Keep eggs in the main section of the refrigerator at a temperature between 33 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit – eggs accidentally left at room temperature should be discarded after two hours, or one hour in warm weather.
• To test the freshness of an egg, place it in water mixed with a little salt. If the egg is fresh it will sink. The quicker or farther it sinks, the fresher it is. If the egg floats, it has spoiled. Throw it away.

This summer, the Colorado Egg Producers Association challenges you to Go Egg-streme for a chance to win an iPad 2! Support your local egg farmer and “like” us on Facebook. Throughout July, August and September upload pictures and videos of yourself, your friends or your family enjoying egg-streme activities with nature’s perfect protein – an egg – to our Wall for your chance to win an iPad2. To enter now visit, http://www.facebook.com/COEggProducers. For more information about CEP, please visit coloradoeggproducers.com.
 

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