Safety labeling proposed for eggs

Under a new proposal announced by FDA and USDA, egg cartons would carry safe handling instructions similar to those found on raw meat products. The proposal stems from the agencies' efforts to prevent illness caused by salmonella enteritidis.

Several SE outbreaks have been traced to undercooked eggs or foods containing undercooked eggs. The proposed statement reads: "SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: Eggs may contain harmful bacteria known to cause serious illness, especially in children, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems. For your protection: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly." Comments are being accepted until mid-September. Separately, as of Aug. 27th, 1999, egg cartons must also carry a statement that eggs must be kept refrigerated at a minimum of 45°F while being processed and shipped to consumers. That requirement was first proposed in May 1998.

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