Handling Eggs Safely

In the next couple of weeks you may be planning or participating in events that use hard cooked dyed eggs. This could be an egg hunt or simply for decoration. Take the following precautions from USDA to keep eggs safe to eat.

  • When dyeing eggs, after hard cooking them, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within 2 hours. If eggs are to be eaten, use a food-safe coloring. As with all foods, if you are the person dyeing the eggs, be sure to wash your hands before preparing food.
  • If you are using hard cooked eggs for decorations, serve within 2 hours or refrigerate and use within 3 to 4 days.
  • When using hard cooked eggs for hunting, USDA does not recommend consuming eggs that have been lying on the ground. When eggs are on the ground they can pick up bacteria, especially if the shells are cracked. If the shells crack, bacteria could contaminate the inside. Try to hide eggs where they are protected from dirt, moisture, pets, and other sources of bacteria. The total time Decorated Eggsfor hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed 2 hours. The “found” eggs must be washed, re-refrigerated and eaten within 3 or 4 days of cooking. Better yet, use plastic eggs for hiding and save the hard cooked eggs for eating.
  • For decorating, you might also want to blow out eggshells. Because some raw eggs may contain Salmonella, you must use caution when blowing out the contents to hollow out the shell for decorating. Use only eggs that have been kept refrigerated and are uncracked. To destroy bacteria that may be present on the surface of the egg, wash the egg in hot water and then rinse in a solution of 1 teaspoon liquid chlorine bleach per half cup of water. After blowing out the egg, refrigerate the contents and use within 3 or 4 days.

Enjoy your events, but keep them safe!

Source: USDA: Shell Eggs from Farm to Table, August 2013.

Written by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Melinda Hill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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