It is generally agreed that milk and eggs are nature's most perfect foods. Milk is extremely perishable while eggs in the shell are not. The reason that eggs are not as perishable as most foods is that they possess protective devices including the cuticle, shell, shell membranes, lysozyme, conalbumin, avidin, pH of the albumen, etc. Having these protective devices is nature's way of allowing reproduction of birds. Chicken eggs, for example, take 21 days to hatch under ideal conditions for growth of microorganisms. Without the protection, reproduction could not take place. Once eggs are broken out of the shell and mixed, they are as perishable as milk. Pathogenic bacteria of concern to humans found in eggs (particularly liquid eggs) are Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium perfringens. These pathogens are not common in shell eggs but can be found in liquid eggs primarily because of reinfection by humans.

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Author notes

1Presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the International Association of Milk, Food, and Environmental Sanitarians, Rochester, New York, August 13–16, 1973.