Cracking the code to safe eggs

April 16, 2014

Whether you celebrate the Easter holiday or simply partake in eating some of the delicacies of the season, we hope you practice food safety (as always). This includes eggs: hard boiled, scrambled, over-easy … no matter which way you crack it, there are some things to keep in mind.

Make sure your eggs are fresh

Perhaps the most common way — other than checking the date on the carton — to test the freshness of your eggs is the water test.

Fill a somewhat deep bowl with water (approximately twice the high of the egg) and gently lower the egg into a bowl. If the egg is fresh, it will sink to the bottom and lay flat on its side. If the egg floats in the water, not touching the bottom of the bowl at all, it should be discarded as the egg may be bad.

There are other tests — including cracking it onto a plate and seeing the presentation of the yolk and the sound test — which can be found here. You can also your nose: if it smells bad, it is bad.

Please note that these tests aren’t 100% effective, but are a good way to help you gauge freshness.

Make sure your eggs are safe to eat. Also be wary of foods that may contain raw/undercooked eggs — like eggnog, cookie dough and custards.

Not all preparations of eggs call for stiff whites and yolks. Many call for a runny yolk, but eating raw or undercooked eggs — and other foods — carries risks. Eggs are required by the USDA to be washed during processing in order to remove bacteria and fecal matter that may be left on the egg from the hen. But, it is possible for eggs to become infected by Salmonella enteritidis, fecal bacteria, by entering through the pores of the shells after being laid.

Because of this possibility, everyone is advised against consuming raw/undercooked egg yolks and whites. Infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to Salmonella enteritidis, and should proceed with extra caution.

In-shell pasteurized eggs may be used safely without cooking.

To learn more about Salmonella in eggs, click here.

Make sure you know the difference

We’ll lay out the basics of varying egg types. You can make the choice on which type of egg is best for your family.

  1. Egg Shell Colors: You can have brown, or you can have white. What’s the difference? Nutritionally, nothing. Apart from the look of the egg (brown are typically bigger than white, thus the rise in cost), they’re both pretty much the same.
  2. Organic: Organic eggs (and meat, poultry and dairy) come from animals that aren’t given antibiotics or growth hormones. Before a product can be certified “organic,” a government-approved agent inspects the farm to ensure the farmer is meeting all of the necessary requirements to fulfull organic standards. Learn more about the USDA regulations here.
  3. Free Range: Producers/farmers must demonstrate to the USDA that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside, according to the USDA.
  4. Cage Free: This type of labeling indicates that the poultry was able to freely roam a building, room or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and water during their production cycle.
  5. For more information on what various labels, including grass-fed and no-added hormones, means, click here.

Holiday Special: Make your food coloring organic

This is a purely optional way to substitute the food dyes found in stores. Extracted from real foods means that you know exactly what is going into your food coloring.

There are many pre-packaged items that you can buy online (see a sampling of what Amazon has to offer here), but there are also homemade versions you can use. Try this powdered version, or use some of the juices and other ingredients here for one-step natural colorings. There are also many videos on YouTube to help you out.


Category: Food Safety