Safe Eggs and Dairy Products

Written by the Healthline Editorial Team | Published on September 8, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on September 8, 2014

Safe Eggs and Dairy Products

Dairy products and eggs can both carry potentially dangerous bacteria. Fortunately, safe storage and handling procedures can help reduce your risk. It’s important to know:

  • how to store eggs and dairy
  • how long these products can be kept safely in the refrigerator
  • the safest ways to prepare eggs and dairy

Keeping Eggs and Dairy Fresh

Eggs and dairy products have a relatively short shelf life. In order to best preserve them, make sure to keep your refrigerator near 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

Eggs

How long eggs last in the refrigerator depends on their type:

  • whole, shell eggs: three to five weeks
  • raw, separated yolks or whites: two to four days
  • hard cooked eggs: one week
  • liquid egg substitutes: 10 days (unopened), three days (after opening)
  • cooked products with eggs: three to four days

Pasteurized Dairy Products

Most milk produced today is pasteurized. Pasteurization is a way to kill microorganisms using heat. It greatly improves the safety of dairy and other food products.

As a general rule, use the expiration date to determine how long you can store milk and dairy products. Milk is usually safe to drink a day or two after the date on the package. When in doubt, smell your milk. If it stinks, throw it out. If you’re not sure, err on the side of caution. It’s better to throw it out too soon than risk getting sick.

Raw Milk

Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized. It has been growing in popularity for a number of reasons. However, raw milk comes with a number of health risks. It has been linked to disease outbreaks in several states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has even been linked to several deaths.

There are no proven health benefits for using raw milk.  There is no way to guarantee the safety of raw milk.

Salmonella

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause serious symptoms including:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • high fever

If left untreated, salmonella may cause death. It’s especially dangerous to groups with compromised immune systems, including the elderly and newborns.

Symptoms of salmonella usually develop between eight and 72 hours after exposure. Seek medical help immediately if you believe that you may have been exposed to salmonella.

Salmonella isn’t only found on eggs. It can also be spread through:

  • undercooked chicken
  • raw dairy products
  • other contaminated foods

Avoiding Contamination

The best way to avoid salmonella is to cook high-risk food thoroughly. High heat effectively kills salmonella. Even infected eggs are harmless if cooked all the way through.

When cooking scrambled eggs make sure not to  leave them runny. When frying eggs, cook the yolk until it is hard.

Salmonella is found on eggshells, not inside eggs. This means that safe food handling practices can greatly reduce your risk. It’s important to thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling eggs. You should also wash the eggs themselves.

If you are concerned about egg safety, there is more information at the Egg Safety Center

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