Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Until the day of the certified salmonella-free egg, all cooks should know how to minimize the risk to themselves and to others, particularly the very young and very old and people with weakened immune systems. The best way to reduce the already small chance of using a badly contaminated egg is to buy only refrigerated eggs and to speed them into your own refrigerator. Cook all egg dishes sufficiently to kill any bacteria that might be present. This generally means holding a temperature of at least 140°F/60°C for 5 minutes, or 160°F/70°C for 1 minute. Egg yolks will remain runny at the first temperature, but will harden at the second. For many lightly cooked egg dishes—soft-boiled and poached eggs, for example, and the yolk-based sauces—it’s possible to modify traditional recipes so as to eliminate any salmonella that might be present (see box).