Regulated egg farms produce 97% of the eggs sold in Canada. Most of these eggs are from hens laying in cages.
Eggs are also collected from free-run farms where hens are kept in a barn, and from free-range farms where hens have both inside and outdoor access. Organic eggs are from free-range hens. Eggs from hens that have been fed enhanced nutritional diets, such as flax, are marketed as higher in omega-3. Other diets for egg-layer hens may have higher vitamin contents that are reflected in the nutritional profile for the egg.
There are close to 7 billion eggs made every year in Canada. Salmonella Enteritidis
is a bacterial pathogen sometimes found in eggs that can cause illness. How many eggs might have salmonella? It has been estimated that the probability of SE will contaminate 1.7 eggs out of every million eggs produced. SE rates have been increasing in BC
, and some illnesses are linked to eggs and egg products. Farmers have food safety control programs to control for salmonella infection in their hens and on their farm. Learn more about these programs:
Most eggs – about 80% or lesser get contaminated from an infected hen (vertical transmission). Some eggs can get contaminated from the environment as well (20%, horizontal transmission). The bacteria can get into the egg yolk, the albumen layer (underneath the egg shell) and other areas in the egg. Cracked eggs and dirty eggs are more likely to get contaminated from the environment, e.g., from hen feces or dirt. Higher temperatures and moisture on the egg exterior are linked to greater risk of contamination. SE has a minimum growth temperature of between 6 to 8°C, which means SE will not grow in eggs kept in a refrigerator that is at a temperature of 4°C or lower.
SE is easily killed by proper cooking. Cook eggs and those dishes containing eggs to an internal temperature of 74°C or hotter. Use your meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. For single eggs, cook them until the yolk is hard – not runny. If you are using eggs for a dish that is not normally cooked (e.g. Caesars salad dressing, Bearnaise sauce, tiramisu ), then use a pasteurized egg product instead. Pasteurized egg products can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores.
Remember that handling eggs is similar to handling raw meat. Wash your hands, work surfaces and utensils thoroughly with warm soapy water before and after handling or working with eggs and raw meat.
Always keep eggs refrigerated until just prior to using them. Do not store them at room temperature. Do not use eggs that have passed their expiry date.
Uncooked eggs should be kept separated from any foods that are ready to eat to prevent cross contamination.