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J Food Prot. 1998 Mar;61(3):276-9.

Bacterial penetration into eggs washed with various chemicals and stored at different temperatures and times.

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  • 1Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 72701, USA.


Eggs were washed with one of three commercial egg-washing chemicals, including a quaternary ammonium compound (QAC, pH 7.5), sodium carbonate (Na2CO3, pH 12), and sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl, 100 ppm, pH 7.5). One hundred fifty intact-shell eggs were washed at 43.3 degrees C with each of three chemicals. A control group was washed with tap water (H2O, pH 7.0). The washed eggs then were inoculated by immersion for 3 min into an aqueous suspension of Salmonella enteritidis at 10(4) colony-forming units/ml and dried for 30 min. The washed and inoculated eggs were stored at 4 degrees C or 23 degrees C, and bacterial penetration was checked at 0-, 7-, 14-, and 21-day intervals. The effects of egg-washing chemicals on microstructural changes of eggshell and postwash inoculation were examined using electron microscopy and conventional culture methods. Fifteen eggs were used in each sample. The results of microbial tests showed that both QAC and sodium hypochlorite treatments reduced bacterial penetration (less than 3.4% and 6.7%, respectively, on day 1 and 16.7% on day 21). The sodium carbonate treatment facilitated bacterial penetration during egg storage (less than 30% on day 1 and 76.7% on day 21). The eggs washed with tap water had a bacterial penetration rate of less than 6.7% on day 1 and 20% on day 21. As the storage intervals increased to 21 days, the bacterial penetration rate increased. Different storage temperatures (4 degrees C and 23 degrees C) did not cause a significant difference in bacterial penetration rates within 21-day interval. The results of electron microscopy showed that QAC and sodium hypochlorite at 100 ppm resulted in microbiologically clean eggs and did not destroy eggshell surfaces, which protected the eggs against future bacterial recontamination. The alkaline sodium carbonate produced visually clean eggs but altered the eggshell surface, which allowed bacterial recontamination.

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