Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis (SE) is a common cause of foodborne illness in the United States. Foods prepared with raw shell eggs have often been associated with SE outbreaks. The federal government published the Egg Safety Action Plan in December 1999 that called for reduction of egg-preparation practices that may contribute to the survival and proliferation of SE. In seven states, an interview and brief site evaluation of 153 restaurants that prepare eggs during all hours of operation was conducted by the Environmental Health Specialists Network to determine the prevalence of such practices. Fifty-four percent (83 of 153) of restaurants pooled raw shell eggs not intended for immediate service. These pooled eggs were held a median of 4 h for scrambled eggs, 5.5 h for omelets, and 6 h for pancakes and French toast. Nearly 26% (39 of 152) of restaurants reported storing eggs at room temperature, and 5% (7 of 152) stored eggs on ice or in cold-water baths before cooking. Generally, eggs were cooked to 72 to 83°C, which is above the recommended final cook temperature of 63 to 68°C. Employees reported sanitizing utensils used to prepare eggs less than once every 4 h in 42% (57 of 136) of restaurants. Several areas were identified in which further emphasis might reduce egg-associated SE infections in accordance with Healthy People 2010 goals.

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Author notes

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