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WASHINGTON -- While less than one quarter of 1 percent of all foodborne illness can be linked to eggs, the egg industry has worked cooperatively since the 1980s with the Food and Drug Administration to reduce the incidence of egg-related salmonellosis. While waiting for FDA's regulation since 1999, the industry has employed many of the actions in FDA's proposed regulation. The egg industry worked with FDA to implement a rule requiring eggs to be refrigerated during distribution and storage at retail
stores. That regulation went into effect in June 2001.
"The chance of encountering an egg contaminated with Salmonella
Enteritidis (SE) remains very small," says Hilary Shallo Thesmar, PhD,
director of the Egg Safety Center in Washington, D.C. "The possibility of
becoming ill from SE can be eliminated with proper storage and cooking." In
rare cases, SE may be found inside raw shell eggs. Based on calculations from
the 1998 USDA Salmonella Risk Assessment Report, one egg per 20,000 (0.005
percent) may be contaminated with the bacteria.
Since 1995, the number of illnesses from SE declined 52 percent, from an average
of 3.88 illnesses per 100,000 people to an average of 1.85 illnesses per
100,000 people in 2002 according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Preventions Salmonella Surveillance System. Significant progress has been
made to reduce the incidence of SE in eggs. The industry is committed to
providing safe eggs and will continue to work towards that goal.
While the industry and the FDA are working to prevent SE from getting
inside eggs, consumers can do a few simple things to eliminate any risk of SE
What can consumers do to improve egg safety?
-- Follow the 4 FightBAC! messages (http://www.fightbac.org )
-- Clean -- Wash hands before and after handling raw eggs
-- Separate -- Keep raw eggs separate from other foods, especially foods
that will not be further cooked
-- Chill -- Store eggs in their carton on the shelves of your
refrigerator. Do not leave eggs at room temperature for more than 2
-- Cook -- Cook eggs thoroughly. Recipes containing eggs should be
cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees F.
Source: American Egg Board