Ohio: A Leader in Egg Production & Egg Safety
Ohio is the nation's second-largest egg producing state, producing more than eight billion eggs each year. With that leadership comes a responsibility to help protect the safety of the country's food supply.
Ohio's egg farmers take that commitment seriously and have put in place strict standards and programs to ensure the eggs consumers eat are safe, nutritious and of the highest quality. In 1996, Ohio's egg farmers joined forces with the Ohio Poultry Association, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish the Ohio Egg Quality Assurance Program.
The program was created to minimize the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in eggs. It enhances the safety of Ohio-produced eggs, while maintaining consumer confidence in the quality of the eggs they buy.
Ohio egg farmers also participate in other voluntary egg safety programs, including the National Poultry Improvement Program and the USDA Grading System.
EGG SAFETY AT A GLANCE Top of Page
The egg is one of nature's most nutritious, economical and versatile foods. It poses no greater food safety risk than any other perishable food.
Most mishandling and reported foodborne illness outbreaks have occurred in restaurants and institutions. Inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking are factors that have contributed to disease outbreaks.
Proper sanitation by food preparers and cross-contamination from other foods are other factors important to egg safety. Egg recipes properly prepared in individual servings and promptly eaten are not a problem.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) outbreaks have been reduced 48 percent since 1995 because of continuing egg industry support of farm-level quality assurance programs like Ohio's and through nationwide industry food safety education programs.
About egg safety and egg handling Top of Page
Proper egg safety and handling is very important. Below are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how to handle eggs:
- Q: How long can I keep eggs in the refrigerator?
- A: Eggs, kept in their cartons in the refrigerator, will keep at least four weeks from purchase.
- Q: How long can I keep hard-cooked eggs?
- A: Once the eggs are cooked and cooled promptly, refrigerate the hard-cooked eggs in their shell and use within one week's time. Hint: Fresh eggs may be difficult to peel. Eggs which have been refrigerated for a week to 10 days before cooking will usually peel more easily.
- Q: How can I keep a fresh egg "FRESH"?
- A: Eggs lose quality very quickly at room temperature, so buy eggs only from refrigerated cases. Take the eggs home and refrigerate promptly. Look for shells that are clean and whole. Buy as many eggs as you will use within a two to three week period.
- Q: What are the chances of getting a Salmonella-infected egg?
- A: The Center for Disease Control estimates that, on average across the U.S., one in 20,000 eggs might contain bacteria. At this rate, if you consume 260 eggs per year, you might encounter a contaminated egg once every 77 years.
- Q: What is the best way to store eggs?
- A: Store eggs in their carton because eggs can absorb refrigerator odors.
- Q: Is it safe to eat raw eggs?
A: The risk of foodborne illness from eggs may increase with raw and lightly-cooked dishes.
It's best not to serve raw or lightly-cooked dishes made with eggs.
Note: There is no health risk if eggs are handled and prepared properly.
Ohio Egg Quality Assurance Program (OEQAP) Top of Page
The OEQAP, a state voluntary program intended to minimize the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) in eggs, is a cooperative effort between egg farmers, the Ohio Poultry Association and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The program provides step-by-step procedures for egg farmers to produce, pack and sell the highest quality, freshest and safest eggs possible.
OEQAP outlines stringent guidelines for the production of eggs, including health monitoring of the chickens and environmental testing in chicken houses. The program continues those guidelines through processing, egg washing and inspection and transportation to grocery and convenience stores across the region in refrigerated trucks that are temperature-controlled to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Protect Our Food Supply Top of Page
Consumers who purchase Ohio-produced eggs can be confident the eggs they buy are safe and of the highest quality, because Ohio egg farmers make egg safety a top priority.
At the state level, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is working diligently to increase efforts to protect the state's farms and livestock and maximize food safety for consumers. The Department is the state's lead agency in investigating and controlling infectious livestock diseases, including those that pose a threat to human life. The Department also provides technical assistance to other state agencies and industries regarding agriculture biosecurity and has emergency-response plans to quickly control disease outbreaks through animal quarantines and other measures.
At the industry level, Ohio's egg farmers are doing their part by making both food safety and biosecurity top priorities. Many Ohio egg farmers have increased farm security by installing security systems and video surveillance and by alerting their employees of possible threats. In addition, egg farmers are working with local law enforcement and prosecutors in identifying and prosecuting trespassers at agriculture facilities.