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How to cook eggs safely

It is safe for healthy adults to eat raw or lightly-cooked eggs, but these can cause food poisoning in vulnerable groups.

Eggs that have not been cooked thoroughly can contain harmful bacteria, which can make babies, toddlers, people who are unwell or pregnant women seriously ill from food poisoning. If you are cooking eggs for anyone in these groups, make sure that they are cooked thoroughly - until the yolk is solid - as this will kill any bacteria.

You should also avoid giving people in these groups any food containing raw or lightly cooked egg, such as:

  • Home-made mayonnaise
  • Béarnaise and hollandaise sauces
  • Ice cream
  • Icing
  • Mousse
  • Some desserts

If you are cooking a dish containing eggs, make sure you cook it until the food is piping hot all the way through.

When you buy mayonnaise, salad dressings, sauces, ice cream, desserts, or ready-made icing in the supermarket, these will almost always have been made using pasteurised egg. They are safe to eat because pasteurisation kills bacteria. Check the label, and ask the producer if you are not sure.

Finally, if you are not sure whether a food contains raw egg when you are eating out, ask the person serving you.

Duck eggs

Duck eggs have become popular in the past few years and are now readily available. And while duck eggs are a natural, nutritious food, bacause they may contain Salmonella, they do need to be handled and cooked with greater care than quality-assured hens’ eggs.

  1. Only eat duck eggs that are thoroughly cooked –that means that both the egg white and yolk are solid.
  2. Never eat duck eggs raw or lightly cooked.
  3. Dishes that contain duck eggs must be cooked until they are piping hot all the way through.
  4. Do not use duck eggs for lightly-cooked products, such as tiramisu, homemade mayonnaise, icing or hollandaise sauce.
  5. Do not taste raw baking mixes - or let your children lick the spoon!
  6. Wash thoroughly in warm soapy water everything that has been in contact with duck egg shells and raw duck egg - hands, utensils, and surfaces.
  7. Store duck eggs in a separate box or container in the fridge away from ready-to-eat foods.

Cooking with duck eggs

A duck egg is heavier and larger than a hen’s egg and therefore needs more cooking time. Duck eggs are also more suitable for certain recipes than other egg types because they have a richer taste and a higher fat content in the yolk. And while duck eggs can work well in baked products where they are thoroughly cooked, they may have a "rubbery" texture when hard boiled, scrambled or thoroughly fried. 

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