Health Canada Reminds Canadians Of Egg Safety

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Eggs and Food Safety

Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the importance of proper food handling and preparation in the prevention of foodborne illness associated with eggs.

Eggs are occasionally contaminated with Salmonella and other bacteria that can make you sick. It is also possible to contaminate eggs with bacteria from other foods. Following a few simple food safety tips can help you avoid contracting foodborne illness from eggs.

Shop carefully: One of the best ways to ensure that the eggs you're going to eat will be safe is to buy them carefully. Choose only refrigerated eggs with clean and un-cracked shells. Check the best before date on the package and pick up eggs just before you get to the check out counter. Refrigerate eggs within two hours of purchase.

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Keep eggs cold: Eggs should be put away immediately when you get home from the grocery store. Eggs 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 within four days. Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge in a covered container for up to one week. Egg salad sandwiches are a popular lunch food, but if you are sending a child to school with an egg salad sandwich in a lunch bag, be sure to include an icepack or frozen juice box to keep the sandwich cold.

Keep clean: Handwashing, using soap and warm water before and after handling food, is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Remember to wash your hands carefully before and after handling raw eggs to avoid potential cross contamination. 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 that they are safe to eat. Serve egg dishes immediately after cooking or store in shallow covered containers and refrigerate them within two hours. Uncooked cookie dough, batters or frostings made with raw eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria. Always make sure your baked goods are cooked thoroughly and never lick the spoon or eat raw cookie dough when baking using 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 cook them thoroughly and then cool them immediately in the refrigerator. Use a non-toxic colouring dye on eggs with un-cracked shells. Be sure that eggs are kept cold before and after dying, 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 between 11 million and 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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