Easter Egg Food Safety
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Many families celebrate Easter by coloring eggs. It’s a tradition that goes back many, many years. If you dye eggs at your house, remember that no matter how beautiful they are, they're still food, if you choose to eat them! Make them safe! Easter Egg safety is important especially if you want to eat them. Food poisoning is not a fine Easter tradition.
Shell eggs can carry germs (like salmonella) in or on them. These germs begin growing happily at temperatures of 41 ° F (5 ° C) to 135 ° F (58 ° C). Remember that most rooms are around 70-80 ° F.
- Getting good eggs: Start by purchasing eggs wisely, whether you are dyeing them for Easter or scrambling them for tomorrow. Check the expiration date on the carton. You’ll need to check each egg individually for leaks, cracks, or breaks. A good way to do this is to move each egg slightly inside the egg carton; eggs that won’t move a little bit are cracked and stuck to the carton and you shouldn’t purchase them. Place the eggs in your cart or basket so that they will not be crushed. Make sure the cashier or grocery store employee doesn’t place them into a bag with heavy food. You don’t want them breaking on the way home. Whole shell eggs will last about three to four weeks in your refrigerator. (To learn more about smart grocery store food safety and eggs, click here.)
- Dyeing eggs safety: Make sure to wash your hands before you start handling the eggs. Cook them completely, and then cool them completely (they should be cold to the touch) before you even think about dyeing them. (For tips on how to cook eggs click here.) If any eggs crack during the cooking, don’t use them. Use a non-toxic dye to dye the eggs, such as a dye that you purchase in a kit offered by most grocery stores. Do not use laundry dye! Once the eggs are decorated, put them back in the refrigerator right away. Don’t leave them sitting out.
- Eat or hide? While it may be fun to hide real Easter eggs, it’s best to use plastic or other artificial eggs for an Easter egg hunt if you plan to eat the real ones afterward. The risk of not finding an egg after the hunt is always a possibility – you might be playing “What’s That Smell?” as you try to find it. If displaying your egg art is part of your tradition, make sure not to eat any eggs that have sat out longer than two hours. Bottom line: If you plan to eat the eggs, make sure to keep them cold.
- How long will they last? Cooked Easter eggs will last about a week or two in your refrigerator. However, if they have been mishandled during the dyeing process, they might go bad earlier. If any egg looks or smells “funny,” don’t eat it! (To find out more about how eggs and other foods spoil click here.)
Enjoy your Easter eggs, remembering that keeping your family safe and healthy makes the holiday even more enjoyable.
To check out Food-Safety-and-You.com's home page, click here.