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Can Someone Explain the Egg Rules?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Some of you guys know a lot about the production end of the distribution chain, and many of you teach ServSafe, and so on. I'm hoping you can clarify some things for me about eggs and egg production, and also poultry meat itself. I'd look them up myself, but haven't the faintest where to look.

1. I've heard that eggs can be labeled "fresh" if they have spent as much as 30 days in transit and storage before being shelved. Is this true? How far out can the sell-by-date be from the laying date?

2. Is it true that salmonella cultures are extremely common on the exterior surface of eggs? If so, is there some reason they're not washed?

3. Is there no provision for inspection or testing with regard to salmonella in eggs or meat?

Any related information about poultry and egg production safety is much appreciated.
post #2 of 9
Chris to answer some of your questions.

1. An egg is still considered fresh for up to 30 days AFTER it has been washed and the protetive natural coating has been removed.

2. Yes salmonella is VERy common and all Chickens carry it naturally sort of like we do its when you kill and let it sit in the TDZ that it takes over and becomes harmful. You as a person carry the same salmonella in your body and it works like an anti virus to help fight off the minor strains you may get on a daily basis.

3. Yes there is but eggs are tested in two ways, water testing and candling. Salmonella is actually tested in the facitlities in the protiens regularly, daliy actually.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
post #3 of 9
A couple more questions:

How often do the contents of the egg carry salmonella? If I wash the exterior surface well, can I eliminate all the salmonella?

I remember reading Julia Child's autobiography where she talked about not needing to refrigerate eggs in France. Are eggs treated differently there? Or just fresher to market so they keep longer after purchase?
post #4 of 9
Since temps in kitchens go up and down it is better to refrigerate them. I remember reading how at one time eggs were dipped in hot oil to seal the shell. More Bacteria on the shell then inside. I have seen health care facilities years ago spray with hydrogen peroxide. Today most health food places(nursing homes, hospitals etc) buy the already broken pasteurized eggs. A .05ppm. hypochloride solution dip will kill salmonella or 165' F.
post #5 of 9
the CDC, FDA and USDA have tons of info on egg salmonella. it can be very dense reading.

seems a lot of current regulatory effort involve getting - and keeping - just laid eggs down to 45'F for handling and storage. that seems to significantly inhibit salmonella growth.

in commercial egg production/packaging/distributions eggs are indeed washed and sealed by "approved" processes. hence the advice do _not_ wash your store bought eggs - you can remove the intentionally applied "coating" and actually increase the risk of salmonella moving into the egg.

the maximum shelf life I've seen cited is 45 days when properly refrigerated, etc. that is a Federal guideline - states vary and I have no idea about outside USA.

salmonella on the shells is prevalent; it is also the "least dangerous" part of the issue.
the big issue arises when the salmonella penetrates the shell and it becomes more dangerous should it reach the yolk (fertile bacterial breeding ground)

that is the source of the "never used a cracked egg" advice.

but it is apparently possible for salmonella to penetrate an intact shell.

estimates are 1 in 10,000 eggs may have interior contamination, and most of that - in the case of intact shells - comes from a hen that itself is infected in the ovaries - essentially the egg is contaminated before it is laid by the hen.
see: Disease Listing, Salmonella enteritidis, Generall Information | CDC Bacterial, Mycotic Diseases

1 in 10,000 is the citation for the northeast USA, the most severely affected region. the frequency is lower elsewhere and (egads!) seems an infected hen does not always lay infected eggs; some eggs test good, some eggs from that same hen test contaminated.

no amount of washing will eliminate that source of salmonella food poisoning.

USDA does have programs to monitor production flocks for the "infected hen" problem.

some time back there was a big flappola about eggs - seems it is/was legal to return eggs past their marked shelf life, rewash and inspect, co-mingle "new" and "old" eggs and put them back on the market. note that there is/was no mechanism to ensure the same eggs were not processed and reprocessed and . . .

that practice is, so far as I can find, now prohibited for eggs bearing the USDA grading quality shield. no shield, nobody knows.... most of the eggs in my market are ink jet coded so the date/place of packaging is documented.
post #6 of 9
Regarding Julia Child's remembrances. This time of year we only refrigerate excess eggs we're going to sell. Our home use eggs go into a basket on the kitchen counter. I much prefer to use room temperature eggs for cooking. We also don't wash them, unless they are particularly dirty. The wisdom in our family has always had it that washed eggs spoil faster.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
I must say that there is something amiss in this information coming from CDC et al. It's already been noted that the French do not generally refrigerate eggs, and salmonella is a fairly minor issue in France. The Japanese very rarely refrigerate eggs, and salmonella is essentially nonexistent in Japan -- raw chicken and chicken liver sashimi are not at all uncommon, just to give an extreme example, and raw eggs are very popular, especially for elderly people and children but also as a sort of dip for noodles, meat, etc.

So why is this such a problem in the US, where refrigeration of eggs is mandated? I'm sure it's true that refrigeration slows the culture growth, but the implication is that salmonella is endemic in US chicken, and the refrigeration and whatnot are ways of reducing the problem without actually trying to fix it.

Am I misreading?
post #8 of 9
>>Am I misreading?

nope. the egg is great "packaging" in and of itself; refrigeration is not essential for short term storage / use. I can recall some of the old time chefs on tv talking two weeks on the counter.

if salmonella isn't an issue in a region, why not? but such is not the case in the US. not sure I would call it endemic, but it is commonplace. the salmonella bacteria is present in the GI tract of just about every animal - so the theory of "just get rid of it" is not likely to be successful.

now, the ability to have the chicken say "Ah" and determine it is / is not infected would be very useful <g>
post #9 of 9
Liability issues for the producers. 99.99% of the eggs could be salmonella free but if the legal wizards can trace a death to that 0.01% then there will be millions of $$$ to pay primarily to the legal system. Other countries are not quite so likely to take legal action like America is.

I can remember my grandparents storing fresh eggs in a basket on the kitchen counter. I can also recall that we would have hard boiled eggs out in a basket for days after Easter. This was common practice at the time with all our neighbors. We all seemed to thrive and do well.
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