All methods of egg preservation aim to prevent the entry and growth of spoilage or pathogenic micro‐organisms which would make the egg unpalatable or dangerous to health. Although the contents of chickens' eggs are sterile on laying, the shell surface may be contaminated with many micro‐organisms — on average there may be 130,000 bacteria on the shell of an egg. Most of these organisms, which come from the nest litter or the bird's excreta, will spoil the egg but are not harmful to health, for example Pseudomonas fluorescens which causes ‘green rot’ and off‐odours if allowed to penetrate the egg and grow. Some of the contaminating organisms may be pathogenic, food‐poisoning bacteria such as Salmonella species, which are sometimes present in chicken droppings, but pathogens are very rare in chickens' eggs. Similar salmonellae have been implicated in numerous food‐poisoning outbreaks associated with duck eggs, as the aquatic environment of the duck encourages their growth and on no account should duck eggs be preserved.
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