Much has been done since the 1980’s when Edwina Currie’s comments on salmonella brought eggs to the forefront. Commercially produced egg supplies are closely monitored and the British Egg Industry Council has done much to manage and promote safety. Over 85% of all chicken eggs sold in the UK carry the Lion Quality logo and the inoculation of large flocks over recent years has had a significant impact in reducing reported cases of salmonella in England and Wales. However salmonella is still present and is the second most common food related illness behind campylobacter.
Fiona Sinclair, Director of STS, says: “The trend for reducing food miles means catering businesses are using ingredients sourced closer to home, and more unusual eggs from smaller artisan businesses are proving popular. Fresh and free range doesn’t mean safe and until the FSA findings are published later this year, it would be prudent for all food businesses to continue with caution and observe good food safety principles. Eggs will continue to be a staple part of our diet and with continued awareness, correct handling and applying good practice, negative reaction to them should be minimised.”
The recommendation is to keep eggs refrigerated in their shells at a temperature of 4°C or below. It’s also important to ensure eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked. Discard any cracked or dirty eggs as they may harbour other bacteria.
Eggs should ideally be used within two to three weeks to ensure best quality. If they are hard cooked (in the shell or peeled) they should be used within a week of cooking.
Egg whites can be frozen on their own but if yolks are present they should be beaten in with the whites. Eggs should not be frozen in their shells. Similarly, prepared dishes should be served as soon as possible after they are made and any leftovers disposed of within 24 hours, even if they have been stored correctly.
As with all food preparation it is important to wash hands and clean and disinfect utensils and equipment thoroughly to ensure work surfaces remain clean if they come into contact with food stuff containing raw eggs. Kitchen clothing must be properly laundered and cardboard egg trays should always be discarded rather than reused.