Status:
Resolved
Health advisory:
140006
Date Issued:
14 Jun 2013
Issued by:
Dr Rosemary Lester, Chief Health Officer, Victoria
Issued to:
Restaurants, cafes and caterers

Key messages

  • Eggs are a highly nutritious food, used in many different recipes and ways. However, like meat, seafood and dairy products, eggs have the potential to be hazardous. To reduce the risk of making your customers ill, particular care must be taken to handle and store eggs and raw egg products safely.
  • Use clean, sanitised and separate containers for each raw egg product.
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitise between uses.
  • Do not top up raw egg products from different batches.
  • It is safest to make raw egg products daily, in small batches rather than in large containers.
  • Always store raw egg products under refrigeration.
  • Store raw egg products for the shortest time possible and dispose of frequently - preferably every 24 hours or less.

Raw egg products

Raw egg products have the potential to be hazardous and need special care and handling. Some examples of raw egg foods include:

  • Homemade sauces – mayonnaise, aioli, egg butter, hollandaise and béarnaise.
  • Uncooked desserts – chocolate mousse, tiramisu, ice-cream.
  • Drinks – eggnog and egg flip.
  • Egg wash – beaten eggs, sometimes mixed with another liquid, and brushed onto foods such as pastry or pizza.

As a precautionary measure, the following should be adhered to:

  • Use clean, sanitised and separate containers for each raw egg product.
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitise between uses.
  • Do not top up raw egg products from different batches.
  • It is safest to make raw egg products daily, in small batches rather than in large containers.
  • Always store raw egg products under refrigeration.
  • Store raw egg products for the shortest time possible and dispose of frequently - preferably every 24 hours or less.

Eggs

  • Use clean, non-cracked eggs.
  • Store eggs correctly.
  • Follow the 2-hour/4-hour rule.
  • Ensure all staff read this information and comply with your food safety program.
  • Consider alternatives to raw egg products.

What is the issue?

In recent years, the incidence of Salmonella infections in Victoria has increased. Similar trends have also been seen in other parts of Australia. Some cases and several outbreaks of illness – some very large – have been linked to the consumption of foods containing raw or lightly cooked eggs, or cross contamination from eggs.

Bacteria on the outside of the shell can enter the egg through cracks that are sometimes too fine to see. Once inside the egg, bacteria can grow, increasing the risk of illness. Spreading Salmonella bacteria from raw egg to ready-to-eat foods through handling or the use of contaminated kitchen implements (such as blenders) also presents a health risk.

Prevention

Proper handling and storage of eggs is essential to prevent the growth of any bacteria and minimise the risk of illness.

Use clean eggs

Only accept or use eggs that are:

  • supplied in clean packaging.
  • correctly labelled with details of the supplier, batch number identification and a best-before-date.
  • clean, not cracked or dirty.

Store eggs correctly

  • Ensure eggs and raw egg foods are kept refrigerated as bacteria grow more slowly at refrigerated temperatures.
  • Ensure effective stock rotation of eggs, regularly check the best-before date and discard them when that date has passed.

Prepare eggs safely

  • Do not wash eggs - the shell becomes more porous when wet, making it easier for bacteria to get into the egg.
  • Wash and dry hands before and after cracking eggs.
  • When breaking eggs, minimise contact between the shell and the contents of the egg.
  • Thoroughly clean all food preparation areas, work surfaces, equipment, blenders, utensils and cleaning cloths after working with eggs, and after egg spills.
  • Once eggs are broken, use them immediately wherever possible.

Keep food under temperature control

When preparing or serving foods containing cooked or raw eggs (or any potentially hazardous food) minimise the time in which the foods are kept at temperatures between 5oC and 60oC.

Follow the 2-hour/4-hour rule:

If food is kept at temperatures between 5oC and 60oC -

  • for less than 2 hours - it must be refrigerated or used immediately.
  • for between 2 and 4 hours - it must be used immediately.
  • for 4 hours or more - it must be thrown out.

Take special care with liquid egg products and foods containing raw eggs

Use clean, sanitised and separate containers for each raw egg product.

Do not ‘top up’ mayonnaise or other egg-based sauces from different batches.

It is safest to make liquid egg products and raw egg foods daily, in small batches rather than large containers.

Always store raw egg products under refrigeration.

Store raw egg products for the shortest time possible and dispose of frequently - preferably every 24 hours or less.

This Advisory is also available in the following languages:

Contacts

  • Food Safety Hotline Tel. 1300 364 352
  • Email: foodsafety@dhhs.vic.gov.au
  • Your local council health department
  • Your food safety auditor