Egg Safety Basics

Egg safety basics for springtime celebrations

Eggs are a familiar symbol of spring. They are one of nature’s most nutritious and economical foods and feature prominently at many spring holiday celebrations. A few basic steps will help ensure all your springtime recipes are “eggcellent” and food safe.

According to Barbara Ingham, food science specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, thorough cooking is an important step in making sure eggs are safe. Ingham recommends the following cooking methods for preparing eggs.

  • Scrambled eggs: Cook until firm, not runny.
  • Fried, poached, boiled or baked: Cook until both the white and the yolk are firm.
  • Egg mixtures, such as casseroles: Cook until the center of the mixture reaches 160°F when measured with a food thermometer.

“The perfect hard-boiled egg is easy to prepare,” says Ingham. Place cold eggs in a saucepan and cover with 1–2 inches of cold water. Cover the pan, place on the stove and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils rapidly, turn off the heat, keeping the pan covered. Set the timer for 12 minutes (for large eggs). When the timer rings, rinse the eggs under cold running water, dry and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Package dates. All eggs must have a “best-by” date stamped on the carton. If the eggs are past the date stamped on the package, is it too late to eat them? “Properly refrigerated, eggs are considered safe for consumption four to five weeks beyond the date marked on the package,” says Ingham.

Play it safe with egg recipes. Love homemade ice cream? It’s food safe if you do one of the following, says Ingham.

  • Heat the egg-milk ice cream base. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer to ensure that it reaches 160°F prior to churning.
  • Use pasteurized eggs or egg products.

Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350°F for about 15 minutes. But avoid chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites, Ingham says. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream or a whipped topping.

If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, you can make it safe by:

  • Heating the eggs in one of the recipe’s other liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160°F. Then, combine the egg mixture with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
  • Using pasteurized eggs or egg products.

Do you have other questions about eggs? Ever wonder what determines whether an egg is white or brown, the best way to store eggs, and how to prevent illness from Salmonella linked to eggs? Ingham suggests checking the following resources for answers:

To learn more about food safety, contact your local county UW-Extension office at or 608-785-9593.