by Jim Chan - Public Health Inspector (Retired)
Easter Sunday is a popular day for family traditions such as attending church, getting together with family and friends for a big meal, as well as making colored Easter eggs and organizing Easter egg hunt activities. In many activities, the legendary Easter bunny brings baskets filled with colored eggs to children on the night before Easter by hiding eggs outside the home for children to run around and find on Easter morning.
While most bacteria are found on the egg shell, bacteria can sometimes get inside an egg. Egg shells are porous and can let bacteria such as Salmonella or other pathogenic bacteria that can cause foodborne illness to penetrate the shell and contaminate the eggs.
Food Safety Tips
To enjoy this Easter tradition safely, here are some food safety tips on handling eggs to avoid foodborne illness that can spoil the Easter holiday.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before handling the eggs at every step, including cooking, cooling dyeing and storing.
- Clean and snitize all preparation surfaces to prevent post contaminbation of cooked eggs.
- Check eggs for cracks and do not cook or dye cracked eggs.
- Keep fresh eggs refrigerated until it is time to cook them.
- Cook the eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny.
- If not able to dye the eggs right after cooking, make sure to store them is the refrigerator and ensure the temperature is at least 4°C /40° F or lower.
- Use only food-grade dye such as gel, liquid or paste for cake decorating,
- After dyeing the eggs, store them in a clean container to prevent cross-contamination with other raw food inside the refrigerator.
- Do not eat eggs that have been sitting at room temperature or in the Danger Zone for more than 2 hours. If using cooked eggs for decoration and have been out of refrigeration for many hours, make sure to cook and dye extra eggs for eating and discard the eggs that have been left out too long.
- Hiding cooked eggs in the garden for the Easter egg hunt may introduce pathogenic bacteria to the eggs from the environment. One option is to use plastic eggs or wrapped chocolate eggs for the hunt and eat the cooked eggs from the refrigerator later.
Enjoy the Easter eggs and all the fun activities during the Easter holiday. Always remember food safety and keeping the family safe and healthy can make the holiday even more enjoyable.