Tips for Egg Safety From Farm to Table
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by Richard Hoyle,
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
On the Farm:
- Use chicks from a certified source (NPIP Salmonella enteritidis-monitored, Salmonella pullorum-free). If in doubt, contact the State Veterinarian to have the birds tested.
- Raise chickens isolated from all other poultry.
- Use feed from a reliable source; crumbles or pellets are heat-treated and less likely to be contaminated.
- Use good sanitation practices:
- keep litter and nest boxes dry, change nest litter weekly
- use potable water and keep water and drinkers clean
- keep feed dry and feeders clean
- control rodents, flies and beetles
- keep wild birds, pets and predators away from the chicken pen
- don’t use unsanitized equipment from other farms
- clean and sanitize all equipment and the coop between flocks
- Use pest control compounds and sanitizers in compliance with label instructions, and only if approved for use in poultry houses and around laying flocks.
- Use only approved flock medications under veterinary supervision. Do not use eggs during the withdrawal period.
- Maintain flock health and consult veterinarian on good health management practices.
- Collect eggs at least twice daily.
Egg Handling After Collection:
- Use only clean eggs. Don’t use floor eggs.
- Lightly soiled eggs may be used for sale only if:
- eggs are either lightly sanded to remove small areas of dirt OR
- eggs are carefully washed in potable water 20°F warmer than the egg temperature and at least 90°F, using only sanitizers* approved for egg washing. Place eggs in suspended colander and rinse without submersing them in the wash solution. Eggs must be dried immediately afterwards. Sanded eggs must not be washed.* bleach solution made of ½ oz of household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) in 1 gallon of water may be used.
- Place eggs in clean, new cardboard boxes and store eggs at or below 45°F.
- Sell only eggs of Grade A quality or better.
- Shelf life of eggs is 30-40 days from lay if handled this way and stored under refrigeration.
- Keep eggs refrigerated at all times; use coolers that plug into a cigarette lighter or use refreezable cool packs for farmers’ markets, fairs etc. Don’t use ice. Eggs should stay dry.
Egg Safety Tips for the Consumer:
- Store eggs in the refrigerator on the shelf in the egg cartons.
- Use only clean and unbroken eggs. Discard broken and dirty eggs. Eggs should not be washed before use.
- Break eggs one at a time and avoid mixing the shell with the egg content. Remove bits of egg shell with a clean utensil.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before beginning food preparation and use clean utensils, equipment and countertops.
- Do not leave shell eggs and eggs in any form at room temperature for more than 2 hours including preparation and serving. Promptly after serving, refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers so they will cool quickly.
- Salmonella and many other bacteria will not survive if held at a temperature of 140°F for 3 ½ minutes or at 160°F and they will not grow at a temperature below 40°F.
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