Fresh egg handling safety

Asked April 7, 2019, 8:57 AM EDT

Hi, my generous neighbor, who raises hens gave me a dozen eggs, but my concern is that she keeps them unwashed and on her kitchen counter for days. ROOM that safe??? I read about egg handling here on this site, but did not address this issue. Thanks, Yvette

Anne Arundel County Maryland food safety

2 Responses

Hi Yvette,
Thank you for your question. I provided some additional information you may find useful below.

Unless the house is at 45 degrees F or below at ambient temperature, the eggs should be refrigerated at a temperature of 41 degrees F or below (your refrigerator operates best at 32-41 degrees F). Lightly washing the eggs as mentioned below is also ideal, even if it is from your own backyard flock. The Maryland Department of of Agriculture can give you informed directions of how to wash an egg (page 6, under Processing #3

Backyard flock eggs-From Univ. of Maryland Extension
"The egg shell is semi-permeable. Air enters the egg and moisture evaporates. Eggs should be cleaned gently with a damp cloth, and refrigerated. Since water can enter through the egg shell, do not immerse in water to clean. The risk of infection from eating eggs is low, but susceptible individuals should only eat hard cooked eggs." More susceptible individuals would be pregnant women, children under the age of 5 years, adults older than 60 years of age, and immunocompromised individuals (eg, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer...)

Eggs at MD farmers markets
Eggs sold at a farmers market in Maryland-are to be washed (following our Dept. of Agriculture's guidelines), and held at a 45 degree F or below at ambient temperature.

Eggs sold at grocery stores
In most typical shopping experiences, eggs from a grocery store would be graded by the USDA, washed and sanitized before packing and sold to consumers.

If you have more questions, I would contact Deanna Baldwin at the Department of Agriculture, at

Thank you very much for your information. Yvette