This week it was reported that there has been an outbreak of salmonella in the United States, with 22 people already so far being struck down by infection. The source of the bacteria was a farm in North Carolina, which shipped out 206 million eggs that then had to be recalled, due to an order by the FDA.
What made many people nervous was the fact that these eggs were distributed via multiple brand names, including Country Daybreak, Coburn Farms, Crystal Farms, Sunshine Farms, and Glenview. These brands made their way to grocery stores and restaurants in nine states: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
It is possible to avoid egg cartons affected by the recall if you spot a label with the plant number P-1065, with packing dates ranging from 011 through 102, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does offer some tips for handling eggs in general. Even if your eggs aren't linked to an outbreak, the CDC recommends you follow these rules to avoid illness.
1. Buy pasteurized eggs
This includes other egg products, which are widely available.
2. Keep them in the fridge
It's best to keep them at 40°F or colder at all times, and only buy eggs from stores and suppliers that keep them refrigerated.
3. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
The shell doesn't always provide the inside from contamination.
4. No runny eggs
This will be the hardest rule to follow for some, but to avoid salmonella, it's best to cook eggs to an internal temperature of 160°F or higher, making sure both the yolk and white are firm.
5. Don't leave them out
Any eggs or food made with eggs should not be eaten if they've been left sitting at room temperature for more than two hours.
6. Wash your hands
This is a pretty simple one - but one that many don't follow. Always make sure to wash both your hands and any cooking tools that come into contact with raw egg - including any countertops and cutting boards.
So while there is a good chance you won't be exposed to salmonella through egg products, in the off-chance that you are, it's best to follow at least some of the above rules. After all, salmonella can be extremely dangerous to those with weak immune systems, such as children and the elderly.