Easter Egg Safety

by in Easter, Food Safety, Healthy Holidays, March 27, 2013

Easter eggs
Easter wouldn’t be complete without brightly-colored eggs and a full out egg hunt. But who wants to ruin the festivities with spoiled eggs?

Food Safety Basics
Eggs are considered a potentially hazardous food that may cause illness if they’re not handled correctly. Raw and undercooked eggs have been associated with salmonella poisoning. Most folks infected with the salmonella bacteria develop symptoms about 12 to 72 hours after infected. Most people can recover but if symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be required especially in those with a compromised immune system (like the very young and old). Proper handling, cooking, and hand washing can prevent most of the issues.

Keeping Eggs Safe
Egg safety begins at your market and continues until the time when you reserve leftovers.

  • Purchasing: Inspect egg cartons at the market. Don’t purchase cracked or dirty eggs and be sure to check the sell-by date. Eggs should always be refrigerated, even when on display.
  • Storing: Be sure to get those eggs home quickly. They shouldn’t sit at room temperature longer than 2 hours—1 hour if it’s above 90 degrees. Once home, place the eggs in your refrigerator immediately.
  • Preparing: When preparing eggs, wash your hands, any utensils, and surfaces that will come into contact with the eggs. If you’re not sure if the eggs are safe to eat, toss them. Once the equipment is used for the eggs, be sure to wash them with soap and warm water immediately. Don’t use them for another prep task (that’s cross-contamination!).
  • Cooking: Always make sure that your eggs are safe to eat. For hard-boiled (or any cooked) eggs, you want to cook the eggs until both the white and yolk are firm. Learn how to make perfect hard-boiled eggs.
  • Leftovers: Hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. They shouldn’t be frozen.

Decorating Basics
If you love dyeing Easter eggs, following safe food safety practices is important.

  • Cook and refrigerate: Once boiled eggs are properly cooled, place in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to decorate, just grab them from the fridge.
  • Food-friendly dye: If you’re planning on eating the eggs after decorating them, only use dyes made for food. Avoid hardware store paint or kids art project dyes.
  • Paint and store: Once you’ve finished dyeing each egg, put them right back in the refrigerator so the eggs stay cool.
  • A few at a time: If you’re dyeing lots of eggs, work on smaller batches of 4-5 or so at a time, then get them right back into the refrigerator.
  • When in doubt, toss it out: If the eggs are left over the 2 hour mark (1 hour if left at temperatures over 90 degrees), throw them out.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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