Does cooking eggs make them safe?

 

Yes and no. It can, but it depends how well they are cooked: runny scrambled eggs, soft boiled eggs, and the lightly browned meringue topping on pies are all "cooked" to some extent–but not enough to kill off e.coli and salmonella, the contaminants which can make us sick. Also, raw eggs can cause cross contamination issues in your kitchen, so they should be handled with care.

The absolute safest practices include:

Storage:

1. Keep eggs refrigerated at all times until you are ready to use them.

2. Dishes with cooked eggs, such as casseroles, quiche, and puddings, should not be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Less is better.

While cooking:

1. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.

2. Do not separate the white from the yolk by passing it back and forth on the cracked egg shell. The outside of the eggshell can easily carry contaminants. Watch our video for tips on separating eggs.

3. Cook dishes with egg in them to 160F or use pasteurized egg products.

Cleaning:

Wash hands, work surface, and dishes that come in contact with raw egg thoroughly with soap and warm water.

Eating:

1. Eggs are safest when the white and yolk are cooked until firm.

2. Uncooked meringue, like the topping for lemon meringue pie, should be made from pasteurized eggs. The same is true for homemade mayonnaise and other egg-based sauces, and certain kinds of mousse.

3. Sadly, raw cookie batter usually contains uncooked eggs. Giving your kids the mixing bowl and beaters to lick clean has some inherent risk.

See our collection of Egg Recipes if you need ideas for cooking with eggs.

Marge Perry

September 2010