The Food Safety Information Council today released Omnipoll research that shows 43 per cent of Australian adults say they don't always wash their hands after handing raw eggs.
Cathy Moir, Council Chair, said that while eggs are a simple, delicious, cost effective and nutritious part of our diet, egg shells can be contaminated by salmonella on the outside when they are laid.
This can easily be transferred to your hands and contaminate other foods that won't be cooked.
"Our research shows that people are far more likely to always wash their hands after eating other raw foods than eggs, for example far fewer respondents (23 per cent) said they didn't always wash their hands after handling raw meat or poultry.
"People need to remember that shell eggs, like any raw food, can be a risk for food poisoning so always wash your hands after handling eggs".
Moir said people should not use eggshells to separate egg yolks and whites "especially if you aren't going to fully cook the egg dishes you're making" and to invest in an egg separator and use that instead.
Some people were more at risk of becoming ill if they ate food contaminated with food poisoning bacteria e.g. youngsters, elderly, and immunocompromised people. An alternative for these vulnerable groups and other consumers who want to eat eggs and egg dishes that aren't fully cooked was to use pasteurised eggs and egg products said Moir.
"Hand washing after handing eggs and chickens is especially important for those 3 per cent of Australian households who say that they keep hens at home as home grown eggs can also be a source of food poisoning.
"Always remember to wash your hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly after handling eggs, the chickens and their litter and after working with the hens. If your children, grandchildren or friends have been helping to collect the eggs or handling the chickens, be sure they wash their hands too.
If you have your own hens follow these simple food safety tips:
• Keep the hen's nesting materials and litter clean and dry and change it regularly
gather eggs from their nesting places daily.
• Carefully check any eggs for cracks, wipe off any visible dirt with a dry cloth or paper towel but don't wash the eggs as this can transfer the contamination into the egg contents.
• Store eggs in the refrigerator in a separate clean container away from ready to eat foods.
'The Food Safety Information Council would like to thank Australian Pasteurised Eggs our Gold sponsor for Australian Food Safety Week, as well as CSIRO, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Animal Medicines Australia, state and territory representatives and our members for providing the evidence base for this information,' Moir concluded.
Find out more information about Australian Food Safety Week here.