April 8, 2004
Easter Egg Safety
Easter eggs are a common sight this time of year. They
can come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some Easter eggs are plastic,
some are foam and some are real eggs. Eggs can be used as spring
decorations or hidden for children to find. When handled properly they can
be a great addition to your spring décor. Here is some important
information from the American Egg Board (AEB) to remember when using real
- Eggs may be contaminated with bacteria and are a
potentially hazardous food, in the same manner as meat, poultry, fish
and milk. In other words, they are able to support the rapid growth of
disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella. Don’t eat an egg that has been
out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
- Do not handle eggs excessively, whether in cooking,
cooling, dyeing or hiding. An egg is very porous and the shell can
permit bacteria to enter. Most commercial egg producers lightly coat
their eggs to close the pores against contamination. Cooking eggs in the
shell removes the barrier of mineral oil so that your hard cooked eggs
are more susceptible to contamination unless you handle them properly.
To help prevent contamination of the egg, you should always wash your
hands before handling the cooked eggs.
AEB Guidelines for Preparing Safe Easter Eggs:
- Inspect eggs before purchasing them, making sure that
they are not dirty or cracked. Always refrigerate fresh eggs until it's
time to cook them.
- Place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Cover the
eggs with sufficient tap water so that it is one inch above the eggs.
For better dye coverage after cooking, add a tablespoon of vinegar.
Cover the pan and rapidly bring to a boil. Turn off heat and remove the
pan from the burner to prevent additional boiling. Allow the eggs to
stand, covered, in the hot water for 15 minutes. Place the eggs at once
in ice water or run cold water over them until completely cooled.
- Wash your hands before handling the cooked eggs.
Select only eggs with uncracked shells for coloring. The eggs should be
at or below room temperature. If you plan on eating the eggs later, use
food grade dyes such as commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring or
colored drink powders. Keep the eggs refrigerated before use.
- Don't eat cracked eggs or eggs that have been out of
refrigeration for more than two hours. If you plan to use hard-cooked
eggs as a centerpiece or other decoration, cook extra eggs for eating
and discard the eggs that have been left out as a decoration.
- For outdoor Easter egg hunts, use only hard-cooked
eggs with uncracked shells. Hide them in places protected from dirt,
animals (pets, wildlife, birds, reptiles, insects, etc.) and other
potential sources of bacteria or chemicals. Re-refrigerate uncracked
"found" eggs and use within a week. Eggs "found" after two hours or with
the shells cracked should be thrown away.
Follow these simple guidelines and don’t let an Easter
egg accidentally spoil your spring celebrations. For more information on
safe Easter eggs visit the American Egg Board website at http://www.aeb.org/. Tips on how to
safely prepare whole eggs as well as empty shells are found in ‘special
occasions’ under the Egg Safety link. Additional Easter egg safety
information can be found at