The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Food Safety Question About Eggs

Marni's picture

Food Safety Question About Eggs

I made challahs today that just wouldn't rise.  Four loaves that should have taken a few hours to make from start to finish  ended up taking 12 hours.  The dough sat out on the counter for about 10 -11 hours,

Here's my concern (I tend to be very cautious of eggs and bacteria in food generally), are these challahs still safe after being out all that time?  Does cooking them kill everything?  I'm thinking yes, since cooking raw meat kills all (most?) of the bacteria there. 

The answer may seem obvious to others, but some days I just can't convince myself I'm right.



alabubba's picture

any bacteria will be dead long before your bread is done. Critters die off around 165, Most bread is baked to 185-210 deg.

dstroy's picture

Nothing to worry about if it's getting baked after the time on the counter. Consider that the way you deal with infected water is to boil it, baking breads requires higher temperatures than that so it'll cook anything harmful out.

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

The most likely bacteria from eggs is salmonella. We get sick from salmonella from the toxins. They don't go away with cooking. If the eggs sit on the countertop too long and the salmonella have a party the toxins are there and you're going to get sick, hot or not.

My suggestion, anything with eggs that you're concerned about-use pasturized instead.

maurdel's picture

It is the salmonella bacteria which would enter our system and make us sick.

Thorough cooking does in fact kill salmonella bacteria.

I don't understand your comments.

Gourmand2go's picture

I have the same concerns about eggs as a bread ingredient.  I've resorted to cold fermentation and doing my best to find fresh eggs.

The reason bacteria are dangerous is that they--the harmful bacteria--produce toxins.  You may be able to kill the bacteria during the cooking process, but there's no guarantee that the toxins already produced will break down during that time.  I once got food poisoning from a bundt cake that had been baked for almost two hours, but it wasn't a serious case of food poisoning, despite the five eggs.  I found a better place to buy eggs after that incident.

The safest thing would be to have your own chickens.  :)

La masa's picture
La masa

Some bacteria are dangerous because they produce toxins (like Clostridium botulinicum), some bacteria are dangerous because they can cause infections (like Salmonella spp.), some bacteria are not dangerous at all, (like Lactobacillus spp.).

Have you read this recent thread?

mrfrost's picture

Curious as to why those "few" hours turned into 12?

My guess is that your water temp, and room temp were too cold? What type yeast was used? Was a sufficient amount used and/or was it fresh(used recently/successfully)?

Edith Pilaf's picture
Edith Pilaf

I live in the northwest and salmonella in eggs has never been a problem here to my knowledge--  I still make Caesar salad, mayo and ice cream with raw eggs, have been doing it for 50 years, and I've never gotten sick.  Maybe I've just been lucky.

In any event, even if your eggs were contaminated to begin with, baking would kill any bacteria that had multiplied in just one day, assuming you purchased refrigerated eggs and they were refrigerated until use.  Most recipes for challah would call for the eggs being at room temperature for nearly that long anyway (including the time required to warm the eggs to room temperature before mixing-- I sometimes leave mine out overnight if I'm baking early in the morning).

mrfrost's picture

The salmonella(bacteria) is usually not to be found inside a fresh intact(no cracks) egg. It is the outside of the eggshell that is usually the source of the contamination; namely chicken feces remnants. However, many animals, including humans harbor salmonella in their intestinal tracts. So the source of contamination can be unwashed hands, etc., that then come into contact with foods that are good growing mediums for the bacteria.

So it is not regional per se. And the incubation doesn't begin until after the food is comtaminated. In this case, after the egg is cracked and the contents come in to contact with the contaminated outside of the eggshell. Ensuring that the eggs are thoroughly washed, usually can eliminate that source. So an uncracked egg sitting out on the counter is usually safe. I think I've read that often, eggs are not refrigerated in France, and I imagine other parts of Europe, and throughout the world.

Anyway, because so much hearsay is starting to fly around; some facts, from "authorities", for all it's worth:

How do people catch Salmonella?

Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may become contaminated. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella. Food may also become contaminated by the hands of an infected food handler who did not wash hands with soap after using the bathroom.

Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea, and people can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with pets or pet feces. Reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, are particularly likely to harbor Salmonella.  Many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella in their feces. People should always wash their hands immediately after handling a reptile or bird, even if the animal is healthy. Adults should also assure that children wash their hands after handling a reptile or bird, or after touching its environment.

weekend_baker's picture
weekend_baker (Buy clean, keep cool, cook well.)

Cooler temperatures slow down the growth of bacteria--so the small percentage of eggs with a small amount of bacteria in them, that are going to be properly cooked, are unlikely to be an issue if your house is quite cool.

I always think the issue with eggs that get left out isn't just the risk of salmonella, it's that they stop being nice and eggy and turn into a horrible tacky gunk.  It's a texture thing too. 

But the bottom line is, if you're really worried, you'll give yourself a stomach ache eating the bread, however safe or delicious it might be.  But if the reassurance gives you confidence, then go ahead!

Marni's picture

Thank You everyone for your quick and helpful responses!  I really do know rationally that everything is killed by the heat, but I just needed reassurance outside of my own head.

Weekend_baker, you're right that I just might not be able to get past the worry.  especially since its for my kids.  The challahs are pretty much a flop anyway, so as much as I hate to waste food, I'll just make freah today.

Mr.Frost - Thanks for your extensive comments.  There are a few things that could have gone wrong.  I bake LOTS of challah and tend to be casual about it.  I think it got me yesterday - the day was crazy and I didn't pay attention to what I was doing.  The most likely culprit was water that was too hot. 

For those who are following this, I also found these sites:

Thanks again,


Gourmand2go's picture

Salmonella enteritidis Infection Egg-associated salmonellosis is an important public health problem in the United States and several European countries. A bacterium, Salmonella enteritidis, can be inside perfectly normal-appearing eggs, and if the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacterium can cause illness. During the 1980s, illness related to contaminated eggs occurred most frequently in the northeastern United States, but now illness caused by S. enteritidis is increasing in other parts of the country as well. Consumers should be aware of the disease and learn how to minimize the chances of becoming ill.

Salmonella has been found in the interior of both meat and eggs from chickens.

deblacksmith's picture

I know that "eggs" are a concern to some but let us be realistic about the food safety of bread.  Bread has been one of man's safest foots for thousands of years.  In all of it's forms with and without eggs.  Because it is baked to high temperatures that kills most if not all "bad living things".  I am sure that there is some case here or there of some type of "infected" bread -- but face the fact that it is very very very rare.  We live in a world full of many risks -- bread should not be one of them.

One of my best breads uses eggs, about one per loaf.  I have made over 500 loafs of this bread.  It is great bread.  There is little risk in eating it, other than getting fat.

Enjoy your bread and don't worry, the world may end tomorrow but not from good bread.



gcook17's picture

Don't run with pointy-ended baguettes.

Broc's picture


You made my day!


~ B


Bwana B's picture
Bwana B

08 Jan 2009


Hi Mami:


Eggs are used in many differnet baked goods.  When used in breads along with other enrichments (fats, dairy, end etc.), the dough takes longer to ferment (rise) and depending on the amount of enrichment and the environment in the area where the dough is fermenting, it can take several hours for an enriched dough to properly ferment  


Options: you can use pasturized eggs and powdered milk products and only a smaller amount oil as opposed to 1/4 cup of oil per loaf. 


Assuming you bake the bread to over 165 degrees F, and most challahs are baked to 190 -205 *F, it should kill all the bacteria and insect eggs in the dough.


Many flours, if examined under microscope prior to baking, will have insect eggs; most of which are too small to observie without microscopic help.  When the product is whole kerrnel, like rice for example, some flour pests (weevils for example) deposit their eggs inside the grain while others simply deposit their eggs in the loose flour; this is done prior to processing and/or packaging. The eggs are small enought to pass through miling without harm. Insect eggs in flour and other grain-based products is common and this is not a "contamination"  problem, it normal. Unless the flour or other products made from grain are stored too long and the eggs hatch, then it becomes a problem.  Flour pests metamorphorize (develop) from egg to larva to pupa to adult (weevils and moths and etc.). If you encounter this situation, remove all items in the panty, inspect the seams and crevices in all packages and boxes and dispose of the infested product(s), clean the pantry,  and then call a good exterminator. Don't replace the pantry items until after the exterminator has treated the pantries and cabinets which contained the infested product - and don't replace the items in the pantry/cabinet until pesticide teated surfaces are dry. The afoementined is reason enough to check date codes prior to purchase and not to purchase flour or other grain based products that are on sale.


Well, I hope this was in some way beneficial to you.


Happy Bread Baking


Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

From a US site: "Commercial eggs are all power-washed. Some people say unwashed eggs (if produced under hygenic, polyculture conditions like you find in small farms) are better because they naturally contain an invisible membrane on the outside of the egg that seals in air and keeps out bacteria. This is what supposedly allows you to keep them unrefrigerated. Washing eggs removes this natural membrane, and commercial producers have to spray the eggs with a substitute sealant. Of course, that artificial sealant isn't as effective as nature's, so here in the US, unrefrigerated eggs spoil very quickly."

In UK eggs are not refrigerated by suppliers (what happens in domestic situations is usually different but not in this house) and washed eggs aren't allowed to be sold.

Any commercially produced eggs with faecal deposits are used commercially and not sold by retail.