What is a Raw or Undercooked Egg?

When your foodservice customers order eggs sunny-side up, scrambled, or in an omelet, are you putting them at risk for foodborne illness?

Cooked eggs may not reach a temperature that destroys viruses such as avian influenza or bacteria such as Salmonella enteritidis. Your foodservice kitchen may even be using raw eggs in Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing, introducing foodborne illness risks to your guests. Read more facts about Salmonella and eggs in the Field Guide to Egg Safety.

When is an egg safe from Salmonella?

So, at what temperature is an egg no longer considered “raw” or “undercooked”? An egg is considered fully cooked—that is, safe from foodborne illness—when it has reached a temperature of 155°F for pooled, hot holding or for later service. Over hard eggs, for example, have reached this temperature. However, foodservice customers are far more likely to order eggs sunny-side up. Eggs served this way represent the lowest cooked temperature of any egg option, only reaching a temperature between 75°F and 104°F.

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Balancing safe egg temperature and quality

Omelets and scrambled eggs are also common culprits in Salmonella enteritidis outbreaks. Your foodservice guests don’t want dry, rubbery eggs, but cooking them softer carries with it the risk of Salmonella contamination. The fact is, the majority of the ways foodservice operations prepare eggs do not result in fully-cooked eggs.

Salmonella, eggs, and the CDC

The number of Salmonella outbreaks originating from foodservice kitchens is the reason the CDC pays special attention to how eggs are stored, prepared, and staged in foodservice kitchens. The CDC says dangerous egg-handling procedures are putting foodservice guests at risk of foodborne illness. They urge foodservice operators to use pasteurized shell eggs. Read more: CDC “Cracks Down” on Unpasteurized Eggs in Restaurants.

Pasteurized shell eggs—safe at any temperature

Currently, only about 1 in 5 restaurants uses pasteurized eggs, according to the CDC. Because the FDA does not consider pasteurized shell eggs a TCS (potentially hazardous) food, Davidson’s Safest Choice® pasteurized shell eggs greatly simplify your egg HACCP plan, help you stay in regulatory compliance, and allow you to safely serve eggs in your foodservice operation any style your customers want.