Decorating and hunting for Easter eggs are fun traditions for many families. However, you should follow the food safety practices listed below if you want to safely eat those eggs afterwards. Otherwise, the eggs should be discarded.
- Dyeing eggs: After hard-boiling and dyeing eggs, they should be returned to the refrigerator within 2 hours to keep them cold. Be sure to use food-safe coloring if you are planning to eat the eggs. Also, make sure that everyone handling the eggs washes their hands first, as with any food product.
- Hunting eggs: One of my earliest memories of witnessing a questionable food safety practice was seeing my cousin eat an Easter egg that we found outside on the ground about a week after the eggs were hidden. That was definitely not a safe practice! In fact, the total time that hard-boiled eggs should be out of the refrigerator while they are hid, hunted and found is 2 hours. It is also not recommended to eat hard-boiled eggs that have been lying on the ground because they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked. Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, moisture and other sources of bacteria. These “found” eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within 7 days of cooking.
Hiding plastic eggs is the safest option for numerous reasons, including if you want to hide the eggs on the ground or don’t want to have to worry about getting hard-boiled eggs back in the refrigerator within two hours.
No one wants to have foodborne illness anytime, particular after a holiday, so be sure to follow these simple food safety practices. Enjoy your Easter eggs safely!
More information on Easter egg safety is available at http://missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/nut125.htm.
Contributor: Londa Nwadike, PhD, Extension Food Safety Specialist, University of Missouri/Kansas State University, firstname.lastname@example.org, 816-655-6258