WISCONSIN— Here’s a hard-boiled truth about the annual ritual of Easter egg hunts: If you’re not careful, you could expose the kiddos to salmonella food poisoning.
If you’re dyeing Easter eggs and storing them in the refrigerator like any other hard-boiled egg, you can eat them for up to a week afterward as long as you’ve used food-safe dyes or food coloring, according to the American Egg Board.
But if you’re decorating and hiding them, enjoy their beauty but not their taste.
About 1 in every 20,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and there’s no way to know by looking at the eggs which ones might have the bacteria lurking in them.
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Some important considerations:
- Store eggs in a carton in the coldest part of the refrigerator (40 degrees Fahrenheit or below).
- Do not store eggs on refrigerator door shelves; they’re warmer than interior areas of the fridge.
- Refrigerated eggs should never be left out for more than two hours.
- Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs within two hours of cooking.
- Hard-cooked eggs spoil faster than fresh eggs; that’s because as eggs are cooked, the protective coating on the eggshell is washed away.
In some cultures and Easter traditions, the egg whites and yolks are blown out of the shell. If you’re blowing out an egg, follow these tips from the USDA and Jessi Wohlwend on her DIY blog, Practically Functional:
- Make sure you’re using uncracked, refrigerated eggs.
- Wash the egg in hot water and rinse in a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid chlorine bleach to ½ cup of water.
- Use a needle or toothpick to poke a hole in each end and cover with a small piece of tape; the hole at the larger end of the egg should be a bit bigger than the one at the top.
- Put a finger over both openings and shake the egg to scramble the insides; you should be able to hear the contents sloshing around.
- Fit your lips around the small opening at the top, taking care to get a tight seal so all your air goes into the egg; as Wohlwend explains on her blog, blowing out the insides of an egg is “like blowing up a really, really tough balloon.”
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs.
The USDA frowns on eating eggs used for hunting but says if the intent is to have the kids eat them, the eggs should be hidden in places that are free of dirt, moisture, pets and other sources of bacteria. Keep in mind, too, that eggs in the dirt can pick up bacteria from the soil, especially if the shells are cracked.