Easter Eggs Safe
AUBURN, March 29---When
the Easter season comes in springtime, colored eggs will be nestled
side by side with chocolate bunnies in cheerful baskets, or lurk in
hiding places awaiting to be discovered.
Always handle eggs
properly to prevent foodborne illness, says Dr. Jean Weese, a food
scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
"Throw raw eggs
with cracked shells away. However, even eggs with clean, uncracked
shells can occasionally be contaminated with bacteria. Proper
cooking will destroy the harmful bacteria, and proper handling will
prevent bacteria from developing and multiplying.
"Cleanliness is the
key," says Weese. "Wash hands with hot, soapy water before
handling eggs and again after placing eggs in the boiling water.
Bacteria may have gotten on your hands from the shell of the eggs
and if you don't wash your hands, you will contaminate clean eggs
when you touch them again. "
Kitchen surfaces and
cooking equipment also should be cleaned thoroughly. Otherwise,
cross contamination can spread bacteria from one food or surface to
To reduce the risk of
cracked shells in hard-boiled eggs, place a single layer of eggs in
a saucepan. Add water to at least one inch above the eggs. Cover the
pan and bring water to a boil. Boil eggs at least 2 to 3 minutes
then remove pan from heat. Let eggs stand in hot water for about 15
minutes for large eggs and 12 minutes for medium eggs. When they are
cool enough to handle, remove eggs from the water and place them in
an uncovered container in the refrigerator where they can air dry.
When dyeing eggs, be
careful not to crack them, says Weese, as bacteria can enter the
eggs through the cracks. Use food-grade dyes, such as commercial egg
dyes, liquid food coloring or
fruit drink powders. Hard-cooked eggs should not sit out
unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Keep eggs refrigerated until
you put them into Easter baskets. Store eggs on a shelf inside the
refrigerator rather than on the refrigerator door so they stay fully
Do not use hard cooked
eggs for hiding. Use plastic eggs and replace them with the hard
cooked ones as soon as the hunt is over. If eggs are cracked or
broken during the hunt, children may be disappointed when you have
to throw them away. Therefore, it is better to keep the hard cooked
eggs refrigerated until the hunt. Then, all can sit down and enjoy a
safe Easter egg feast.
SOURCE: DR. JEAN
WEESE, Extension Food Scientist, Alabama Cooperative Extension
System (334) 844-3269