By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau
Sharing words of appreciation for our nation’s food safety system, Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, an independent consultant based in Denver suggests that food safety should always be a priority in the home regardless of a nationwide egg recall. “How wonderful that we have a system in this country that is able to identify a problem and issue a recall; we can target the source and really work to help alleviate the trouble,”
Because people are concerned about food safety, Chin suggests that by taking a few simple steps we can keep the egg, a nutrient dense food, in our diet. And, these recommendations apply to all foods. Chin says first things first: keep everything clean including washing hands and utensils that have come into contact with raw eggs (or raw foods in general). “You avoid any cross contamination and that’s a good habit to get into when you handle any raw food,” she explains. Next, keep things separate. Don’t put raw meat with your fruits and vegetables, for example. Third, cook your eggs at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. “This is where the egg yolk is firm,” says Chin.
Fourth, once things are cooked keep them well chilled. For example, for eggs, they should go into a refrigerator that is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. “Keep eggs in the original container in the main body of refrigerator,” she explains. “There, the temperature stays constant.”
Finally, when you have a cooked egg or other food product don’t let it sit out on the counter, put it in the refrigerator. The rule is that if food is out two hours at room temperature don’t keep it.
Chin makes eggs a regular part of her menu and insists children should have more eggs in their diet. “It’s particularly important now that school has started back up,” she explains. “You want to send them off with a good breakfast and eggs have high satiety [that feeling of fullness] and nutritional value. Numerous studies show that a child who eats a good breakfast learns better, and scores higher on school tests.”
To find Arizona egg producers go to our website at FillYourPlate.org, and search for “eggs.”