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Wilburn: Have a safe, happy Easter with these egg safety tips
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Eggs, like other potentially hazardous foods, need to be handled properly in order to prevent foodborne illness. The following are answers to commonly asked questions about eggs and egg safety in order to help you more safely handle eggs.

What should you consider when buying eggs?

Never purchase eggs that are not in refrigeration. Carefully examine the eggs before you purchase them to make sure they are clean and free of cracks.

What are egg grades?

Egg grading is done by the USDA and is a voluntary service. The egg packers have to pay for the service in order to have a grade on the eggs. The consumer grades for eggs are grades A, AA, and B. The quality of the interior of the egg and the appearance and condition of the shell determine the grade. Size does not affect the grade.

What does the date on the carton mean?

The date on a carton of eggs is the date the eggs were washed, graded and packed in the carton. Sometimes there is also a "sell-by" date on the carton. This date is usually three to five weeks after the "pack" date. If there is no "sell-by" date, use the eggs within five weeks of the pack date.

Should eggs be refrigerated?

Salmonella will grow rapidly if held in a temperature above 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, eggs should be refrigerated to prevent the rapid growth of bacteria.

Should eggs be washed?

Eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. They are also coated with a thin layer of mineral oil to protect the egg. You should not wash eggs because washing them will remove the protective coating. This makes it possible for bacteria to pass through the shell and into the egg.

How do you safely handle eggs?

Since eggs are a potentially hazardous food it is important to handle them properly. You should wash your hands, equipment, utensils and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after working with eggs. Eggs should not be out of refrigeration for more than two hours. Recipes containing eggs should be cooked to at least 160 F. Fried eggs should be cooked until the yolk and white are firm. Scrambled eggs should be cooked until they are no longer runny. Pasteurized shell eggs should be used in recipes that call for raw or undercooked eggs.

What is the nutritional value of an egg?

The average large egg contains 70 calories, 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. Vitamin A, vitamin B-12, riboflavin, folacin, zinc, phosphorus and iron are also found in eggs.

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.

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