NC State Extension Publications

Why Should You Care?

  • People actually do get sick – you can’t control how they cook their eggs or limit their exposure.
    • 47.8 million episodes (1 in 6 people), 127,839 hospitalizations, and 3,037 deaths per year in the US.
    • Eggs are the 4th most common type of food that causes foodborne illness.
  • Sick customers are bad for business.
  • Marketing your commitment to food safety differentiates you in the marketplace and shows you are following best practices.
1 in 6 Americans gets foodborne illness each year.

1 in 6 Americans gets foodborne illness each year.

CDC, 2011

1 in 6 Americans gets foodborne illness each year.

Foodborne illness causes an enormous number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths each year in the U.S.

FDA, 2011

What Is Food Safety?

Food safety focuses on the handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that reduce the risk of foodborne illness.


  • Handling: After cutting raw meats, wash hands, cutting board, knife, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
  • Preparation: Ensure that poultry products are cooked to 165°F by measuring the food temperature with a tip-sensitive food thermometer.
  • Storage: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold to reduce the growth of microorganisms.
Wash hands after handling raw eggs.

Wash hands after handling raw eggs.

Barfblog, 2013

Cook egg dishes to 160?F.

Cook egg dishes to 160?F.

USDA, 2013

Top 5 Factors Responsible for Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

Factor Why is this an issue? Corrective Action

Improper hot/cold holding temperatures of potentially hazardous food

Harmful microorganisms grow quickly between 41°F and 135°F.

Hold potentially hazardous foods at 41°F or below or 135°F or above.

Improper cooking temperatures of food

Raw animal products naturally have pathogenic bacteria, most of which can be killed by cooking to safe temperatures.

Cook egg dishes to 160°F (or when the egg has set).

Dirty and/or contaminated utensils and equipment

When utensils or equipment become dirty or contaminated, they can transfer that contamination to the food.

Wash hands after handling raw eggs. Clean and sanitize tools, equipment, and surfaces that come in contact with raw eggs.

Poor employee health and hygiene

Food workers sick with an acute gastrointestinal illness could potentially contaminate transfer their illness to others through the food.

Do not let sick workers come to work or handle food.

Food from unsafe sources

There is no way to ensure that food from unapproved sources has been produced, prepared, or processed according to regulatory standards of a responsible agency. Any food that is to be sold, served, given away, or used as an ingredient, must be obtained from an approved source.

What Can You Do?

  • Follow risk-reduction best practices
    • Cook egg dishes to 160°F (or when the egg has set)
    • When serving undercooked eggs, restaurants should warn their patrons
    • Pasteurized eggs should be used to make hollandaise sauce, Caesar-salad dressing, and chocolate mousse
  • Create a food safety culture
    • Know the risks associated with the eggs
    • Know why managing the risks is important
    • Effectively manage potential risks using tools, messages, and information
    • Create compelling messages
  • Communicate and differentiate
    • Communicate why you do what you do, what the risks are and exactly how you do it to customers and retailers
    • Differentiating your product becomes a guarantee that you are always doing what you say you are

If You Are a...

  • Farmers’ market:
    • Provide your contact information on packaging (this allows your products to be differentiated if there is a problem).
    • Encourage your customers to follow safe handling recommendations.
  • CSA:
    • Often egg cartons are reused and sent back. These are higher risk because you don’t have control over what was in them. They have the potential to contaminate the outside of a new batch of eggs.
    • Encourage your customers to follow safe handling recommendations.
  • Co-op:
    • Ensure everyone involved knows about egg safety.
    • Ensure employees have the proper tools to manage risks and are trained.


Extension Food Safety Specialist and Assistant Professor
Agricultural and Human Sciences
Extension Associate
Agricultural and Human Sciences

Publication date: March 7, 2014

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