Safe Easter eggs: Two hour rule

Last minute tips to keep your Easter eggs safe.

As Easter quickly approaches in just a few days, the question arises, “Are Easter eggs safe to eat?” Consumers know that eggs need to be handled carefully to prevent the possibility of foodborne illness. Eggs can appear safe with clean, un-cracked shells but they may contain bacteria called Salmonella. Salmonella bacteria can lead to a foodborne illness and put a damper on your holiday gatherings. The question remains, are the hard boiled, dyed eggs for Easter safe to eat? The answer is yes, as long as you follow a few food safety tips recommended by Michigan State University Extension.

Easter celebrations use eggs in a variety of ways, so whether you are decorating hard boiled eggs, using eggs for decorations or having an Easter egg hunt, follow these tips:

  • Purchasing eggs: Open the carton of eggs and make sure there are no cracked eggs inside
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs
  • Coloring eggs: After hard boiling and coloring the eggs, place them back into refrigeration within two hours. The two hours includes the entire time eggs are out of refrigeration for coloring, this includes travel time.
  • Decorating with eggs: Any hard boiled eggs that are used as decorations for baskets or centerpieces must be back in refrigeration within two hours or disposed of after being out for longer than two hours. An option would be to have one set of eggs for decoration to dispose of, and another set in refrigeration to consume and enjoy.
  • Easter egg hunt: It is not recommended to consume hard cooked eggs that have been lying on the ground, because they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked. If the shells crack, bacteria could contaminate the inside. Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, birds, insects, pets and other sources of bacteria. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed two hours. The "found" eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within seven days of cooking. Again, you could have a batch of eggs just for the hunt and a batch to eat that stays in refrigeration. A safe alternative for egg hunts is to use plastic eggs and fill them with goodies.
  • Eggs after Easter: As long as the hard boiled, colored Easter eggs have not been out of refrigeration for more than two hours, they will be safe to eat. Eggs should be used within one week.

With a little planning, your Easter egg coloring and hunts can be safe and fun for all.

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