Should you wash eggs before cooking them?


1. Washing eggs at home can remove the natural protective barrier, potentially making them more susceptible to bacterial infiltration.
2. Water that is not the right temperature or not clean can actually encourage bacteria to be drawn into the egg.
3. The added moisture from washing can create an environment where bacteria can thrive.
4. Home refrigeration units may not be as consistently cold as commercial ones, which can exacerbate the risk if washed eggs are not stored properly.
The Case for Washing Eggs
1. Visible dirt or chicken feces on eggs can carry bacteria which cleaning can remove, thus washing such contaminants off an egg can make it safer.
2. In some cases, like when eggs crack, washing can prevent cross-contamination by removing bacteria from the eggshell surface.
Expert Recommendations
Food safety experts largely agree that if eggs are refrigerated properly and cooked to the right temperature, the risk of salmonella or other contamination is very low. The USDA does not recommend washing eggs at home; instead, they advise that eggs should be cooked until the yolks and whites are firm, which effectively kills any bacteria present. Additionally, consumers should always refrigerate eggs as soon as possible after purchasing them.
Best Practices for Handling Eggs
1. Purchase eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
2. Keep eggs refrigerated at 40°F (4°C) or colder at all times.
3. Only purchase eggs that are not cracked or broken.
4. Do not keep eggs out of the refrigerator for extended periods of time.
5. Cook eggs until both the white and the yolk are firm, which is typically when they reach a temperature of 160°F (71°C).
6. For recipes requiring raw or lightly cooked eggs, consider using pasteurized eggs.

In summary, it’s usually not advisable to wash eggs before cooking them due to the potential for removing their natural protective coating and introducing moisture that could aid bacterial growth. Instead, focus on safe egg practices, such as keeping them refrigerated, cooking them properly, and using pasteurized options for recipes not calling for fully cooked eggs. By following these steps, you can enjoy eggs in your diet while minimizing food safety risks.

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