The Business of Cake Decorating #8
Ingredient Safety

by Earlene Moore

Out of all the ingredients we use in our sugar work, eggs seem to cause the most concern. The following information was compiled to hopefully help all of us know a little bit more about this essential little ingredient in our sugar world.

This egg info was taken from info on the internet at
and edited and condensed for our baking and decorating needs.

Buy refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Keep eggs refrigerated in their carton at 45° F or below.

Wash your hands and utensils in hot soapy water before and after they come into contact with raw eggs.

If you buy eggs at the store and they have raw egg on the outside of the shells - do not wash them until just before using them
Discard cracked eggs or even suspicious marked eggs. Salmonella bacteria can enter cracked eggs and contaminate them. Check eggs for cracks before you use them and discard any questionable eggs. Only a very small number of eggs might contain Salmonella enteritis. Even in areas where outbreaks of salmonellas have occurred, tested flocks show an average of only about 2 to 3 infected eggs out of each 10,000 produced. Conservative scientists liberally estimate that, across the country, only 1 out of every 20,000 eggs produced might contain the bacteria. The likelihood of your finding an infected egg is about 0.005% (five one-thousandths of a percent). If an egg does contain the organism, the numbers in a freshly laid egg probably will be small and, if the eggs are promptly refrigerated, will not multiply enough to cause illness in a healthy person.

Salmonella enteritis will not grow at temperatures below 40°F. Freezing does not destroy Salmonella but it may impair some cells.

Temperatures above 160°F will kill the organisms.

An inexpensive egg separator can be used to separate yolks and whites so that contents do not come in contact with the shells. If a bit of shell falls into the broken egg contents, remove it with a clean utensil not the egg shell.

Although egg white does not readily support bacterial growth, it is possible for Salmonella to be in either the white or yolk of the egg.

The acidity of a product is expressed as pH. Salmonella will not grow in an acid medium with a pH below 4. The lower the pH, the more acidic the product. When prepared with a sufficient quantity of lemon juice, vinegar or other acid ingredients, recipes will have quite a low pH. These might be considered relatively low risk for healthy people. Unfortunately, there is no practical and simple way for the home cook or the food service operator to determine the pH of the finished product. Since the recipes used and the acidity of the ingredients may vary a great deal, it is better to prepare these items by cooking the eggs or to use a pasteurized liquid egg product to assure safety.

I called the Egg Boards phone number 847-296-7043 and talked to Elisa for more information specifically about our sugar work. They recommend that we make 7 minute or royal icing as follows
In a heavy sauce pan or a double boiler stir together the egg whites and sugar from your recipe. Using a minimum of 2 T. granulated sugar per egg white and 1 t. water and 1/8 t. cream of tarter per 2 egg whites. Cook over low heat beating with a portable mixer at low speed. Do not let the mixture foam but just keep the mixture moving. Cook until the eggs reach 160 degrees. (If using an unlined aluminum saucepan, do not add cream of tartar. It will react with the aluminum to produce an unattractive gray product.) Pour into a large bowl and beat at high speed until the egg whites reach high peak for 7 minute icing. She suggested that for royal icing we follow the above only adding powdered sugar to the desired consistency.

When I am making lace points or something small I only use one egg white, lemon juice and powdered sugar. After further discussion she gave me another solution to make sure these are safe. After the fresh egg white royal icing lace points, flowers or plaques are totally dry we can put them into the oven at a temperature of 200 degrees. Leave them in long enough for the total sugar piece to reach the 160 degree temperature. How long you leave the sugar piece in the oven would be determined by how large the items are. Lace points - shorter time Roses - longer time. We will have to determine this ourselves with the help of an oven thermometer. She said wet or dry the egg needs to reach 160 degrees to be totally safe. This seems to be a good practical solution for those of us who prefer the strength of the egg white royal icing.

I knew that I had been taught that these fresh egg white lace points, flowers and etc. were safe to use. I tracked down that information for you. Nicholas Lodge was taught in his schooling in England that fresh egg white royal icing is a safe product because the quantity of sugar we use in the fresh egg white royal icing inhibits bacteria growth. That along with the acidity of the lemon juice reduces the chances of passing any bacterial contamination to our customers to almost nothing.

Sure we must be careful and follow good hygiene habits to insure we don't use contaminated eggs. But we also must use a little common sense about the food products we use. Milk products must also be handled with care. Fresh strawberries used in or on a cake tend to mold easily. Cakes that are under cooked can mold or spoil and be unsafe for our customers. We must use good judgment and care with our cake and sugar products to protect ourselves as well as our customers.
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