Find the Easter Eggs, Not the Bacteria

Egg Safety 101

Easter EggsThose delicately colored, hard-boiled Easter eggs await you at thebreakfast table. All you have to do is peel and eat, right?

Think again. Did you leave those same eggs out overnight in the Easter baskets you carefully hid around your house for the kids?

If so, you’d be better off tossing the eggs in the trash and eating something fresher – and safer.

The federal Food and Drug Administration warns that cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods should not sit out for more than two hours. Furthermore, you should use hard-cooked eggs within one week after cooking them.

Fresh eggs, even those still in the shell, need to be handled carefully to avoid the risk of foodborne illness. Even clean eggs with uncracked shells can contain Salmonella bacteria, which can cause a serious intestinal infection. And children, along with the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, are the most vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.

The FDA requires the following labeling on all cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to kill Salmonella bacteria (by in-shell pasteurization, for example): “Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.”

When buying eggs, the FDA recommends that you:

Only buy eggs sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.

Open the carton and check to be sure the eggs are clean and not cracked.

Refrigerate the eggs promptly.

Store the eggs in their original carton and use them within three weeks of purchase.

When cooking with eggs:

Keep your work area clean. Wash your hands, utensils, work surfaces and equipment with hot, soapy water before and after working with eggs or egg-containing foods.

Cook eggs until the yolk and the white are firm. Egg-containing casseroles and other dishes should be cooked to 160ºF. Check the temperature with a food thermometer.

If a recipe calls for raw or undercooked eggs (Caesar salad dressing, for example), use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, or use pasteurized egg products.

Chill, chill, chill:

Cooked eggs should not sit out for more than two hours. Refrigerate them.

Use hard-cooked eggs within one week after cooking.

Use frozen eggs within one year. Do not freeze eggs in their shells. Instead, beat the whites and yolks together and then freeze them.

Refrigerate leftover egg-containing foods and use them within three to four days.

Learn more:

When in Doubt, Throw It Out!
Keep Your Kitchen – and Your Family – Food-Safe

Germ Warfare In the Kitchen:
 Make sure you target the hot spots