Food Poisoning and Easter Egg Safety: Warmer weather brings Easter and the need for egg safety
Hard-boiled eggs will fill many kitchens this spring as parents prepare for the much celebrated Easter Egg Hunt. Easter is April 21 and many of you will be making plans for family gatherings that include Easter egg hunts, as well as such delicacies as deviled eggs, egg salad, and elaborate egg dishes for the breakfast, brunch, or dinner table. While handling all of these eggs, raw and hard-cooked, it is very important to keep in mind some food safety tips.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Poultry & Egg Division, offers some helpful tips to keep your family safe during the warmer weather and the Easter egg season – and I have added a few more:
- Caution must be taken during preparation, which includes cooking, cooling, dyeing, and hiding eggs. During all stages, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with hot soapy water and rinse them well before handling the eggs.
- Take time to inspect the eggs before purchasing them, making sure they are not dirty or cracked. Dangerous bacteria can enter a cracked egg.
Store eggs in their original cartons inside the refrigerator instead of in the refrigerator door to prevent unnecessary jarring that can crack eggs.
- Carefully consider your hiding places for an Easter egg hunt. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects, or lawn chemicals. Think about grass that is also the place where animals urinate or defecate.
- Find all the eggs you’ve hidden wash them thoroughly after they have been collected! Then, as a solid precaution, refrigerate them.
- If any of the eggs have cracked during the Easter egg hunt, discard them. The cracks are the areas where salmonella, e. coli, or other pathogens can get in! Refrigeration may slow bacterial growth, but refrigeration (and even freezing) does not kill most pathogens.
- Hard-boiled eggs remain safe for as long as two hours without refrigeration and refrigeration of hard-cooked eggs in their shells will prolong their shelf-life for up to a week. But after a week? Any that remain should be discarded.
- If you are planning to use colored eggs as decorations, (for centerpieces, etc.) where the eggs will not be refrigerated for more than two hours, discard them after they have served their decorative purpose!!!
Easter will be much more fun and meaningful if everyone in the family stays healthy! Make sure you and your family understand Food Poisoning and Easter Egg Safety and the holiday will be remembered for the fun and enjoyment it brought, not the illness that comes from eating contaminated food!