Eggs and Salmonella Enteritidis

Eggs have been associated with the foodborne illness causing bacteria SalmonellaEnteritidis (SE).  There are many different types of Salmonella bacteria,SE is just one of thousands of different types.  In addition, Salmonellaand SE are found in a wide variety of food products including meat, poultry,unpasteurized dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and contaminatedwater.  

It was once thought that Salmonella contaminatedeggs  through contact with the shell.  However, in the late 1980’s it wasdiscovered that SE could be deposited inside the egg by the hen. Therefore, refrigerating and cooking eggs is very important along with usingappropriate food handling techniques such as washing hands, counter tops and allutensils that come in contact with food.    By refrigeratingeggs,  using proper handling, and cooking eggs thoroughly, the chance ofdeveloping Salmonellosis from eggs can be eliminated.

Some facts about eggs and SE:

  • in the US, only one egg in 20,000 eggs is estimated to contain Salmonella Enteritidis
  • SE when present is found in very low numbers (10-100 cells per egg)
  • Salmonella does not grow well at cold temperatures, therefore, refrigeration is very important.
  • Properly cooking eggs destroys salmonella
  • The incidence of salmonellosis from Salmonella Enteritidis has declined 22% since 1996

For more information on SE and Eggs, see the following  factsheets:


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