According to the USDA, bacteria can be present on the outside of the shell because the eggs leave the chicken’s little body down the same route as other wastes (feces). Stay with me … Eggs are washed and sanitized at the plant before being carted to the supermarket. Feeling better?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says salmonella bacteria can also be in the inside of the egg even when the shell isn’t cracked. Contamination can occur because the bacteria can be present in the hen’s ovary, or in the tube leading to the ovary, and from there can get into the egg before the shell encloses the white and yolk. The eggs can also get infected through the pores of the shells if the egg comes in contact with fecal matter after the chickens lay them, according to the USDA. Luckily the number of eggs infected with Salmonella is rather small. However, there have still been some reported cases of foodborne illness over the last few years, according to the USDA.
It’s important to cook eggs thoroughly to destroy any potential bacteria that might be present. The USDA recommends that eggs should be cooked until yolks and whites are firm, and that scrambled eggs should not be runny. Any casseroles or dishes that contain eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees F and tested with a food thermometer.
Enjoy your eggs. Just make sure that you cook them properly!