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Eggs improperly handled can cause illness

March 30, 2013 at 11:19 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- Eggs, associated with spring festivals for centuries, became an Easter tradition in the 13th century, but eating eggs not handled properly can cause illness.

Eggs were formerly a forbidden food during Lent and there are rituals in many countries involving painting and decorating them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, and then eating them as a celebration of Easter.

However, the modern egg can cause food poisoning from salmonella, an organism that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever, can be found on both the outside and the inside of eggs that look perfectly normal.

Officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it's important to handle eggs properly by:

-- Buying eggs only from stores that keep them refrigerated.

-- Storing eggs in their original carton and keep them refrigerated at 40 degrees F.

-- Refrigerating unused eggs or leftovers that contain eggs promptly.

-- Washing hands and all food contact surface areas such as counter tops, utensils, dishes and cutting boards with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.

-- Discard cracked or dirty eggs.

-- Cooking eggs until both the yolk and white are firm and not runny. Recipes containing eggs mixed with other foods should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

-- Eat eggs promptly after cooking. Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs and egg-containing foods, should not sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.

-- For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked eggs like homemade Caesar salad or ice cream use either eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella, by pasteurization.

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