Dont Risk Illness from Raw or Undercooked Eggs Warns LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/21/2005 9:23:15 PM

News You Can Use For January 2004

Eating raw or undercooked eggs is an invitation for foodborne illness. The same is true for lightly cooked eggs and egg dishes, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

"It is important for the cooking temperature to reach 160 F to kill bacteria, including salmonella," Reames explains, adding, "Egg mixtures are safe if they reach that temperature. Heat gently and use a food thermometer."

Make homemade ice cream and eggnog safely using a cooked base. Heat the egg-milk mixture gently. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature or use a metal spoon (the mixture should coat the spoon). Ready-to-drink eggnog, which has been pasteurized, is available in the dairy case at most stores during the holidays.

Desserts, such as crème brûlée, molten chocolate cakes, key lime or chocolate silk pie, tira misu and chocolate mousse are typically made with raw eggs or egg whites, which are not cooked or are undercooked.

"To ensure that these desserts will be safe if made with fresh shell eggs, the eggs must reach a safe temperature," the LSU AgCenter nutritionist insists, adding, "When preparing a recipe that calls for raw eggs, make it safe by heating the eggs in a liquid or melted ingredient from the recipe, such as the lime juice or chocolate." Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.

Make sure the mixture doesn’t exceed 160 F, or the results may be ‘scrambled eggs,’ Reames cautions.

To make key lime or lemon ice box pie safely, heat the lime (or lemon) juice with the raw egg yolks in a pan on the stove, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the sweetened condensed milk and pour it into a baked pie crust.

Baked egg-rich desserts, such as custard pies, crème brûlée or molten chocolate cakes should reach 160 °F in the center when measured with a food thermometer.

Meringue-topped pies are safe if baked at 350 F for about 15 minutes. In chiffon pies and fruit whips, substitute whipped cream or whipped topping instead of using raw, beaten egg whites.

Dry meringue shells, which are baked in the oven, are safe. Divinity candy is also safe. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites. A "7-minute frosting," made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites, however, is safe.

Cook egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles to 160 F as measured with a food thermometer. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 F as measured with a food thermometer.

Reames offers these additional tips:

• Buy only clean, refrigerated eggs with uncracked shells.

• Wash hands, utensils, equipment and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs.

• Don't keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than two hours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that when a food source is identified in a salmonella outbreak, undercooked and raw shell eggs are the most common culprits.

Food safety education and outreach to consumers continues to play a vital role in further reducing foodborne illnesses. For local information and educational programs in this and related areas of family and consumer sciences, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office. Also, log on to the Family and Consumer Sciences section under the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service at the LSU AgCenter Web site: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/

On the Internet: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): http://www.fsis.usda.gov/

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3329, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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