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How to clean eggs

Australian Food Standard

Under the Australian Food Standards Code 4.2.5 an egg producer must not sell or supply eggs or egg pulp for human consumption if the eggs are unacceptable.

An unacceptable egg is:

a.       a cracked egg or a dirty egg, or

b.       egg product which has not been processed in accordance with the Standard, or

c.       egg product which contains a pathogenic micro-organism, whether or not the egg product has been processed in accordance with the Standard.

Egg businesses that produce and wash or clean and grade eggs for human consumption must implement appropriate cleaning procedures to ensure the safety of their product.

Dirty eggs can be a health hazard if they are not handled correctly. Dirty eggs can carry harmful bacteria that can enter the eggs and if not cooked properly they can potentially cause food poisoning.

Dirty eggs must not be sold for retail sale. Dirty eggs must be either:

  • a.       cleaned so that visible faeces, soil and other matter is removed from the shell, or
  • b.       sold to a licensed egg business that washes or dry cleans, or
  • c.       discarded.

Eggs should be collected often, at least once per day, to help decrease the number of dirty and cracked eggs.

  • Collection of eggs should be more frequent during very hot and cold weather.
  • Important points to remember when collecting eggs:
  • clean eggs should be separated from dirty eggs
  • eggs should be collected in an easy to clean container like coated wire baskets or plastic flats. This will prevent stains from rusted metal and contamination from other materials which are difficult to clean and sanitise
  • do not stack eggs too high. If collecting in baskets do not stack eggs more than 5 layers deep. If using plastic flats do not stack more than 6 flats
  • eggs should be held below 15°C with 70% humidity prior to cleaning
  • embryos can start to develop in fertile eggs held at a temperature of 29°C for more than a few hours
  • never cool eggs rapidly before cleaning. The egg shell will contract and may pull any dirt or bacteria on the egg surface into the pores when cooled
  • keep egg temperature fairly constant until the eggs are washed to avoid sweating
  • sweating occurs when eggs are moved from cold storage to a warm environment, and
  • condensation on the surface of the egg facilitates movement of microbes inside the shell.

Source:  (NSW Food Authority, 2017)

Dry cleaning eggs

The following information on cleaning and washing eggs is an excerpt from the NSW Food Authority guidelines to comply with the Egg Food Safety Scheme of Food Regulation 2015  CITATION NSW17 \l 3081 (NSW Food Authority, 2017).

 Eggs that are only slightly dirty can be cleaned or rubbed with an egg brush, paper towel, sanding sponge or plastic scourer with a gentle rubbing action. Dirty eggs with mud or faeces that cannot be removed easily using this method should be separated for clean eggs and/or disposed of.

  • If a dry cloth is used it must be changed if there is any sign of soiling and there should be enough     cloths to ensure that only a clean cloth is passed over the egg each time
  • Dirty cloths must be sanitized, washed and dried thoroughly before reuse
  • Any cloth or material used to dry clean eggs must be food safe
  • ·Disposable paper towels avoid re-use so are highly recommended

Precautions must be taken if using a damp cloth to clean eggs:

  • Wash water must be sanitized and changed often
  • Sanitizers and detergents must be food safe and only used as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Damp cloths should not be dripping wet.  They should be rinsed in sanitized water and thoroughly   wrung out.
  • No water should be left on the egg surface. A fine film of moisture that is readily evaporated               should only be seen

All cleaning equipment should be sanitised in 100 ppm of chlorine for 20 minutes. Sanding blocks should not be used as they are not food grade.

Egg Washing

A lot of care needs to be taken when washing eggs because egg shells are very porous and washing can allow microorganisms to enter through the shell. Eggs will contract as they cool down and this may cause wash water to enter the egg.

  • Minimize the chance of deterioration of quality and contamination from other eggs by washing as      soon as eggs are collected
  • Wash water should be held at a temperature of 41 – 44 o C
  • The washing process should not allow the eggs to stand or soak in the  wash water
  • Eggs should be dried after washing or the risk of contamination is increased

NSW Food Authority 

There is a lot more information available for the Food Authority on their website http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/industry/egg_cleaning_procedures.pdf



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The opinions, advice and information contained in this website have not been provided at the request of any person but are offered by  PROOF and Australian Pig Farmers solely for informational purposes. While the information provided has been formulated in good faith, it should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Australian Pig Farmers, PROOF or do not accept liability in respect of any action taken by any person in reliance on the content of this publication.


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