Health Canada

Health Canada

March 17, 2008 10:25 ET

Information Update: Health Canada Reminds Canadians of Egg Safety

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 17, 2008) - Health Canada would like to remind Canadians of the importance of proper handling and preparation of eggs in order to prevent foodborne illness associated with them.

Eggs can occasionally be contaminated with Salmonella or other microorganisms that can make you sick. It is also possible to contaminate eggs with bacteria from other foods. You can avoid contracting foodborne illness from eggs by following a few food safety tips.

Shop carefully: One of the best ways to ensure that the eggs you eat are safe is to buy them carefully. Choose only refrigerated eggs with clean and uncracked shells. Check the "best before" date on the package.

Keep eggs cold: Eggs should be refrigerated within two hours of purchase and should be placed in the coldest section of the refrigerator, usually near the back, in their original carton. The carton helps protect eggs from odours and damage. Don't crack the shell of an egg until you want to use it. If a shell cracks by accident, remove the egg from the shell, store it in a refrigerated covered container and use it within four days. Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge in a covered container for up to one week. Pickled hard-boiled eggs should also be stored in the refrigerator and used within one week. Egg salad sandwiches are a popular lunch food, but if you send a child to school with an egg salad sandwich in a lunch bag, make sure to include an icepack or frozen juice box to keep the sandwich cold.

Keep clean: Remember to wash your hands carefully with soap and warm water before and after handling raw eggs to avoid potential cross contamination and prevent the spread of foodborne illness related to eggs. Also, carefully wash all cutting boards, counters, knives and other utensils with soap and warm water after preparing foods using raw eggs.

Cook thoroughly: Eggs and egg-based foods should be cooked thoroughly to ensure they are safe to eat. Serve egg dishes immediately after cooking or store them in shallow covered containers and refrigerate them within two hours. Uncooked cookie dough and batters made with raw eggs can contain Salmonella and should not be tasted or eaten until they are cooked thoroughly. You should use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs when you are preparing homemade foods such as icing, Caesar salad dressing, ice cream, egg nog and mayonnaise that use raw eggs.

Easter eggs: Decorating hard-boiled eggs at Easter is a popular activity. Decorated eggs that have been left out on display are not safe to eat. If you want to eat the eggs you decorate, follow these steps. Hard boil them thoroughly and then cool them immediately in the refrigerator. Use a non-toxic colouring dye on eggs with uncracked shells. Be sure that eggs are kept cold before and after dyeing, which means they should be out of the refrigerator for no more than two hours in total. Coloured eggs can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

It is estimated that there are as many as 13 million cases of food-related illnesses in Canada every year. Many of these illnesses could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

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