Extension Connection: Tips for Easter egg safety

Have fun this weekend creatively transforming some eggs into works of art, but be sure to practice good food safety hygiene if you plan to eat them.

Food poisoning from Salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium that causes fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, is just one of the health hazards posed by improperly prepared eggs.

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Health officials caution that hard-boiled eggs that have gone unrefrigerated for more than two hours, are cracked or colored with harmful dyes, can pose serious health hazards to children -- and parents -- who eat them.

Buying, storing eggs

  • Inspect eggs prior to purchasing them. Make sure they are not dirty or cracked. Dangerous bacteria can enter a cracked egg.
  • Store eggs in their original carton in the refrigerator and use them within three weeks.

Cooking eggs

American Egg Board recommendations:

  • Place eggs in single layer in a saucepan and fill with water one inch above the eggs. Cover the pan and bring to boil. Turn off heat. (Remove from heat to prevent further boiling.)
  • Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water for 15 minutes.

Cooling eggs

  • Water cool: Immediately run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until completely cooled, then refrigerate.

Dyeing eggs

  • Eggs should reach room temperature or below prior to dyeing.
  • Do not handle eggs excessively, and wash your hands thoroughly when you handle them.
  • Do not color eggs whose shells crack during cooking.
  • Use food coloring or food-grade dyes if they will be eaten.
  • Refrigerate eggs after coloring until they are to be hidden.

Hiding eggs

  • Avoid areas where eggs may come in contact with pets, wild animals, insects or lawn chemicals. If in doubt, hide colored plastic eggs and save the real eggs for being eaten later.
  • Refrigerate eggs after they have been hidden and found again.
  • Don't eat eggs with cracked shells or eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.

For more information, contact Elisa at the CSU Moffat County Extension Office,539 Barclay St., 824-9180.

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