Health
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Research

Page content: Consumer survey | Food service businesses survey | Preliminary raw egg survey results 2008/2009 | Egg retailers, wholesalers and distributors survey | Preliminary egg temperature survey results 2008/2009 | For more information

Consumer survey

In October 2008, 1000 Victorians completed an internet survey about egg buying, storage and preparation. Only 46% were aware of potential health risks associated with eggs. The following table sets out the research findings and the facts.

Research findings Egg facts

76% of survey respondents thought eggs were safe to eat raw (34%) or lightly cooked (42%).

Cooking eggs and food containing eggs until they are hot all the way through kills any bacteria that may be present. This is especially important when serving eggs to pregnant women, young children, elderly people and anyone with low immunity.

39% of respondents would use a dirty egg, while a further 51% would wash it and use it.

When egg shells are dirty, bacteria can contaminate eggs. Washing eggs can make it easier for bacteria to penetrate the porous shell.  Dirty eggs should be thrown away.

63% of people would throw away a cracked egg but almost one third said they would check it and use it.

You cannot tell by sight or smell whether an egg is contaminated with bacteria. Any bacteria present on the outside of an egg can enter the egg through cracks in the shell causing a potential health risk. Large eggs are more likely to crack than small ones.

Most respondents think that when it comes to food safety, eggs need less attention than chicken, seafood and meat.  

Eggs require the same level of care as other perishable foods like chicken, seafood, meat and dairy products.

44% of respondents would use eggs that were past their best before date. By comparison, 19% would use chicken, 25% would use meat and 36% would use dairy products past use-by or best-before dates.

Food should be used before the best-before or use-by date.

70% knew homemade mayonnaise could contain raw egg, but figures dropped dramatically for other popular foods. Only 9% realised Asian pork rolls could contain raw egg, 11% for tiramisu and 27% for chocolate mousse.

Many popular foods can be made using raw eggs. Alternative recipes that do not require raw eggs should be considered, especially when serving to people who are elderly, very young, pregnant or have reduced immunity.

54% of respondents believe an egg is safe to eat if it doesn’t float in water, 36% think egg yolk colour indicates safety, and 73% think an egg is OK as long as it doesn’t smell bad.

There is no way of knowing whether there are bacteria in or on an egg. Clean eggs are less likely to be contaminated. Refrigeration slows bacterial growth. Thorough cooking kills bacteria.  

87% of respondents store their eggs in the fridge, however, 28% store them loose in the door – separating them from the best-before date on the carton.

Eggs should be kept in the fridge in their carton so you can keep track of the best-before date.

Food service businesses survey

Environmental Health Officers from the City of Greater Geelong, City of Greater Shepparton, City of Port Phillip and City of Yarra volunteered to assist with research surveys about egg safety. 

During the summer months of 2008-2009 Environmental Health Officers from these councils questioned food service businesses, such as cafes, restaurants and caterers, about their use of eggs, and if they make ready-to-eat foods with raw eggs. Environmental Health Officers then discussed the risks associated with preparing and serving foods containing raw or lightly cooked eggs, and advised them about safer alternatives, as outlined in the egg safety brochures. 

The surveys will be repeated in the 2009-2010 summer period to assess any change in the use of raw eggs and the temperatures at which eggs are stored and displayed.

Preliminary raw egg survey results 2008/2009

135 businesses were surveyed by four councils in the summer of 2008-2009, mostly cafes, restaurants, canteens, bakeries and takeaways.

Egg storage

Use of raw eggs

Egg retailers, wholesalers and distributors survey

The Environmental Health Officers also conducted a second survey of egg retailers/wholesalers and distributors (such as supermarkets and convenience stores) regarding the temperature at which eggs are stored and displayed. Environmental Health Officers then discussed the risks associated with storing, displaying and transporting eggs at temperatures higher than 20°C, and advised them about egg safety issue as outlined in the egg safety brochures. 

The surveys will be repeated in the 2009-2010 summer period to assess any change in the use of raw eggs and the temperatures at which eggs are stored and displayed.

Preliminary egg temperature survey results 2008/2009

32 businesses selling eggs were surveyed by 4 councils in the summer of 2008-2009 about egg storage and display temperatures. Businesses were predominantly convenience stores, supermarkets and greengrocers.

The 32 businesses sell approximately 11,700 dozen eggs per week in total.

For more information

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