April 24, 2018

After Easter, a Word About Egg Safety

After Easter, most people have hard cooked eggs that they have dyed for the holiday. The FDA wants you to know some food safety tips for handling this food.

Shell EggsFresh eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria that are in the actual egg itself, not just on the shell. The FDA estimates that 142,000 illnesses are caused by consumers eating eggs that are contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria every year in the United States.

Although there are regulations in place to help prevent contamination of eggs on the farm and during shipping, eggs will contain Salmonella. The bacteria is actually in the hen’s ovaries, and it will then be in the egg itself. Consumers are the last measure of defense against food poisoning from eggs.

All cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella bacteria with pasteurization are required to display this safe handling statement: “To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. Eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella — by in-shell pasteurization, for example are not required to carry safe handling instructions.”

Only eggs that have been heat treated (pasteurized) do not have to carry that statement. If you buy pasteurized eggs, always follow the expiration date on the package to the letter for safety reasons.

Always refrigerate eggs promptly, whether they are cooked or uncooked. Eggs should always be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm; soft cooked eggs such as over easy are not safe to eat.

Hard cooked eggs should be refrigerated promptly after cooking, and within 2 hours out of refrigeration. If they were used in an Easter egg hunt and the ambient temperature was above 80°F, you only have one hour to refrigerate the eggs. If any hard cooked eggs were cracked during the hunt, throw them away. Hard cooked eggs should be used within 7 days of cooking.

If you are going to pack hard cooked eggs for lunches, pack with frozen gel packs to keep them cold. Tell your child to throw away any hard cooked egg that is not eaten.

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