Egg handling guidelines

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Specifying eggs

British Lion eggs are produced to a strict Code of Practice which has effectively eliminated salmonella from eggs produced within the scheme.  A report by the Government's Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food in January 2016 concluded that British Lion eggs can safely be eaten runny, even by pregnant women, babies and elderly people and the Food Standards Agency is planning to update its advice

However, around 13% of the eggs consumed in the UK are imported and many of these imported eggs are bought by UK wholesalers and sold to foodservice operators.   These eggs may not offer the same food safety protection as British Lion eggs. 

In August 2014, there was a major investigation into a salmonella outbreak in the UK, caused by imported eggs.

Do not get caught out - make sure you check the eggs on your delivery to ensure that they carry the British Lion symbol on the egg shell.  It’s your responsibility to ensure the eggs you serve meet due diligence requirements. 

Storing and handling eggs

  • Always use British Lion eggs
  • For optimum quality and safety, eggs should be kept at a constant temperature below 20oC

  • Caterers should ideally store eggs in a refrigerator. If this is not possible they should be stored in the coolest storage area available and orders kept to a minimum volume and regularly delivered.

  • Eggs should be stored separately from other foods.

  • Eggs should be brought to room temperature before cooking.

  • Cracked or dirty eggs should not be used.

  • Cooked egg dishes should be eaten as soon as possible after cooking and, if not for immediate use, should be stored in the refrigerator.

  • Hands should always be washed before and after handling shell eggs.

The importance of temperature control

If salmonella is present in an egg, the principal site of contamination appears to be either the outside of the yolk membrane or the albumen surrounding it.

The yolk membrane becomes more permeable during storage and growth of salmonella, if present, associated with invasion of yolk contents, can occur when eggs are stored at 20°C for more than three weeks.

Growth can be prevented or minimised by low temperature storage, particularly in the kitchen, where temperature fluctuations can accelerate changes to yolk membrane permeability.

The advantages of low temperature storage are three fold: salmonella, if present, is unable to multiply; the yolk membrane remains essentially unchanged for long periods of storage; and any salmonellas present may be rendered more heat-sensitive by prior exposure to low temperature.

Eggs should therefore be kept at a constant temperature below 20oC to prevent deterioration in yolk membrane permeability and to minimise growth of any micro-organisms that may be present.

At room temperature, homogenised egg provides an ideal medium for the growth of micro-organisms and it is therefore essential to avoid any risk of cross-contamination from other foods.

More information for caterers and EHOs

For more detailed information on eggs and salmonella please click here for a leaflet prepared for EHOs 

For a poster with egg handling advice for caterers to use in the kitchen please click here