Easter Egg coloring can be a lot of fun for the whole family, but it is important to remember to practice food safety. “Based on USDA’s statistics, the average consumer would encounter a contaminated egg only once in 42 years. And then, that egg would have to be time- and temperature-abused to contribute to a health problem,” (Egg Nutrition Center,1999). Time and temperature abuse is caused when food is not held or stored at the right temperature to kill viruses or bacteria. As consumers, we may purchase food that is safe, but it can become unsafe based on what we do with it after we buy it. From the moment our eggs leave the store’s refrigerated case, the timer is on. Some tips for keeping your eggs safe and avoiding foodborne illness on the way home include picking up refrigerated items last, bringing a cooler if you have to travel a while before you will return home, and immediately refrigerating items once you arrive home.
The USDA also recommends the following tips to help keep our eggs safe and avoid foodborne illness:
• Don’t take eggs out of the carton to put them in the refrigerator — the carton protects them. Keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator — not on the door.
• Raw shell eggs in the carton can stay in your refrigerator for three to five weeks from the purchase date. Although the “Sell-By” date might pass during that time, the eggs are still safe to use. (The date is not required by federal law, but some states may require it.)
• Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs. To avoid cross-contamination, you should also wash forks, knives, spoons, and all counters and other surfaces that touch the eggs with hot water and soap.
• Don’t keep raw or cooked eggs out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
• Egg dishes such as deviled eggs or egg salad should be used within 3 to 4 days.
In addition to carefully handling Easter Eggs, consider using two sets of eggs – one set for hiding and one for eating. Color extra eggs for the Easter Egg hunt or for decoration but set aside eggs in the refrigerator just for eating. Another option is to reserve the dyed Easter Eggs for eating and use plastic eggs for hiding. These can be filled with wrapped candy or other treats so they still make awesome finds!