Eggs can be described as one of nature’s wonder pills. They contain 11 different vitamins and nutrients packed into only 300 kilojoules. However, the mishandling of eggs within the supply chain is a major contributor to Australia having one of the world’s highest incidence of foodborne outbreaks.
Recent foodborne illness outbreaks have been associated with foods that have been prepared using raw and lightly cooked eggs and egg products. Examples of foods that contain raw or lightly cooked egg include mayonnaise, aioli, scrambled eggs, custard, cheesecake, eggnog, deep fried ice cream, and mousse.
Never use cracked or dirty eggs in the preparation of food. Dirty eggs may have harmful Salmonella bacteria on the shell. Cracked eggs allow Salmonella to enter and grow inside the egg. However even eggs with clean, uncracked shells can pose a risk if handled incorrectly.
Cross-contamination can also occur when handling eggs, and equipment and benches should be cleaned and sanitised to avoid contamination of ready-to-eat foods.
Salmonella is the most commonly reported bacteria responsible for foodborne illness outbreaks and is usually associated with eggs and egg products. Salmonella infection causes gastroenteritis (commonly known as ‘gastro’) and symptoms can include headache, fever, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting which can last days or weeks.
High Risk Processes
Recent foodborne illness outbreaks have been linked to egg-based products (e.g. mayonnaise, aioli, raw egg wash, custard, mousse, deep fried ice cream) that are left out of refrigeration during service and regularly moved in and out of refrigeration over several days.
Repeated temperature abuse of raw egg products allows Salmonella to grow to harmful levels and will result in food poisoning for the consumer.
Remember – look for the green P. These eggs can be used in creating raw egg aioli, mayonnaise, custard, mousse etc.
Safe Eggs Assured
Queensland Health recommends the following to safety manage eggs within your supply chain
Do not wash eggs
Washing eggs allows Salmonella bacteria to move from the outside of the shell to inside the egg. Never wash any eggs and throw away all dirty eggs.
Storage of raw eggs and egg products
When storing eggs and egg products:
- Eggs and egg products should be stored under refrigeration, to minimise the risk of harmful Salmonella bacteria growing.
- Avoid cross-contamination by discarding cartons that contained cracked eggs.
- Make smaller batches of raw egg products.
- Store eggs in their original carton and do not use eggs that are out of date.
Make the right choice for your business – Safe Eggs Assured
Handling of raw eggs and egg products
The following precautions should be taken when handling eggs:
1. Wash hands before and after handling eggs and avoid unnecessary handling of eggs.
2. Minimise the contact between the shell and egg contents when breaking eggs.
3. Ensure utensils, equipment, and other food contact surfaces such as benches are cleaned and sanitised after handling eggs and egg products.
4. Use a clean separate container for each batch of raw egg product and only refill the container once it has been cleaned and sanitised.
Food businesses need to ensure there is no cross-contamination between eggs or egg products and other food items. Equipment that has been used to prepare egg products such as stick blenders, mixers, food processors, and chopping boards must be cleaned and sanitised prior to use with a dishwasher or chemical sanitiser. Blenders, mixers, and processors must be dismantled to allow proper cleaning of internal parts.