Eggs have a high nutritional value and are an important ingredient in many food products. Worldwide foodborne illnesses, such as salmonellosis linked to the consumption of eggs and raw egg products, are a major public health concern. This review focuses on previous studies that have investigated the procedures for the production of microbiologically safe eggs. Studies exploring pasteurization and decontamination methods were investigated. Gamma irradiation, freeze drying, hot air, hot water, infra-red, atmospheric steam, microwave heating and radiofrequency heating are all different decontamination methods currently considered for the production of microbiologically safe eggs. However, each decontamination procedure has different effects on the properties and constituents of the egg. The pasteurization processes are the most widely used and best understood; however, they influence the coagulation, foaming and emulsifying properties of the egg. Future studies are needed to explore combinations of different decontamination methods to produce safe eggs without impacting the protein structure and usability. Currently, eggs which have undergone decontamination processes are primarily used in food prepared for vulnerable populations. However, the development of a decontamination method that does not affect egg properties and functionality could be used in food prepared for the general population to provide greater public health protection.
Keywords: decontamination; egg properties; foodborne illness; pasteurization; public health; salmonellosis.