Easter is a time for gathering with friends and family and a fun time for children with the always exciting Easter egg hunt!
It is estimated that about 180 million eggs are purchased each year in the United States for Easter. While having fun decorating, hiding, and hunting eggs – it’s also important to safely handle eggs – especially if you plan to eat the eggs later.
Egg Food Safety Tips
When you’re decorating, cooking or hiding Easter eggs, extra care is needed as eggs are handled a great deal more than usual around Easter. Follow these food safety tips:
- Learn about foodborne pathogens, cross contamination, hot and cold food holding, personal hygiene and how to prevent foodborne illnesses.
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- Wash your hands thoroughly with hot soapy water and rinse them before handling the eggs when cooking, cooling, dyeing and hiding them.
- Be sure and inspect the eggs before purchasing them, making sure they are not dirty or cracked. Dangerous bacteria may enter a cracked egg.
- Store eggs in their original cartons in the refrigerator rather than the refrigerator door.
- If you’re having an Easter egg hunt, consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.
- Make sure you find all the eggs you’ve hidden and then refrigerate them. Discard cracked eggs.
- As long as the eggs are NOT out of refrigeration over two hours, they will be safe to eat.
Easter Egg – Food Safety FAQs
Q: Are Easter Eggs Safe to Eat?
Yes, as long as you store them in the refrigerator, hide them in places above the ground and away from bacterial. Don’t color eggs that crack during cooking (they’re safe to eat if immediately refrigerated, but otherwise are easy targets for bacteria). And whether you hide eggs for an Easter hunt or use them as a centerpiece, if they have been out at room temperature for more than two hours, discard them.
Better yet, minimize health risks by cooking two sets of eggs. Use one set for an Easter egg hunt or centerpiece display, and the other for eating. That way, the eggs you eat can stay properly refrigerated. Also consider using plastic eggs for hiding.
Q: Are Eggs OK to Use after the “Sell By” Date?
Eggs should be purchased before the “sell by” date and used within three to five weeks of the purchase date. Store eggs in the refrigerator at less than 40°F. When purchasing eggs, make sure they are sold in a refrigerator case and that none of the eggs are cracked. When you get home, put the eggs in the refrigerator as soon as possible and keep them in their original carton displaying the expiration date. The egg rack on the refrigerator door is not the best place to store eggs because the temperature is warmer there than on the interior shelves.
Egg Recipes: Playing It Safe
- Homemade ice cream and eggnog are safe if you do one of the following:
- Use a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer to ensure that it reaches 160 °F.
- Use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
- Dry meringue shells, divinity candy, and 7-minute frosting are safe — these are made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. However, avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
- Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. But avoid chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites — instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
- Adapting Recipes: If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, make it safe by doing one of the following:
- Heating the eggs in one of the recipe’s other liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then, combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe. Or use pasteurized eggs or egg products.
- Using pasteurized eggs or egg products.
- Egg products – such as liquid or frozen egg substitute, are pasteurized, so it’s safe to use them in recipes that will be not be cooked. However, it’s best to use egg products in a recipe that will be cooked, especially if you are serving pregnant women, babies, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
Hard-Boiled Egg – Food Safety FAQs
Q: How Do I Hard Boil an Egg?
Hard-boiled eggs should be cooked until the white and yolk are completely set. To do this, place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, cover the saucepan, then turn off the heat. Let eggs stand in water for 15 minutes. Remove eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water to cool.
Q: Do Hard-Boiled Eggs Spoil Faster than Fresh Eggs?
Yes. When eggs are hard boiled, the protective coating is washed away, making it easier for bacteria to permeate the shell and contaminate the egg. Hard-boiled eggs should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking and used within a week.
Q: Why Is the Inside of a Hard-Boiled Egg Green?
A green ring on a hard-boiled yolk is a result of overcooking. It’s caused by sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting on the yolk’s surface. The green color can also be caused by a high amount of iron in the cooking water. The green-colored yolk is safe to eat.
Egg Safety Additional Information
- Egg Storage Chart
Details on refrigerating and freezing raw eggs, cooked eggs, and egg dishes.
- Egg Safety and Eating Out
Practical things that you can do to keep your family safe.
- Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Salmonella from Eggs (CDC)
If eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, Salmonella bacteria can cause illness.
- Playing it Safe With Eggs: What Consumers Need to Know (FDA)
How to buy, cook, serve, store, and transport fresh eggs to avoid salmonella poisoning. From Consumer Information about Egg Safety.
- Egg Products and Food Safety (USDA)
How to use liquid, frozen, and dried egg products safely.
- Shell Eggs from Farm to Table (USDA)
Answers to questions on eggs, from how often a hen lays an egg to the safety of Easter eggs to egg storage guideline