“Egg”cellent Food Safety Tips for Your Holiday
It seems that everywhere you look, an egg hunt is being advertised, egg dye kits are on every corner in the store, and the Internet is a-buzz with cool decorating ideas. Keep in mind this season that this fun family activity could turn rotten if you forget food safety.
Outbreaks of foodborne illness, especially salmonella, have been associated with the improper preparation and storage of eggs. Salmonella is not something you want to remember when you think back to memories of decorating and hunting eggs in the spring.
Common symptoms of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache. Children are one population most susceptible to foodborne illness.
There is no reason to worry about potential food safety hazards associated with your holiday eggs as long as you remember to follow these guidelines:
- Clean and sanitize your hands, preparation area, and utensils before, during, and after the cooking process.
- Use eggs that are clean and free of cracks and leaks.
- Cook eggs completely – no rushing or short cuts. If you don’t have the time, pick another day to do it.
- Use only food-grade dyes; these include food coloring and dye sold in egg dye kits. Use beet juice, blueberry juice, etc. as alternatives to artificial dye.
- Refrigerate eggs as soon as you are finished decorating or, if decorating later, after cooking and drying.
- The refrigerator door is the warmest spot in your fridge; store eggs in the carton in the main compartment, not in the door.
- Toss eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. If eggs are not “found” or eaten, within this time, make the sacrifice and throw them away (of course, do this while the kids aren’t looking.)
- When hiding eggs for a hunt, keep them in areas that are clean, free of dirt, and away from pets or pests. Consider decorating one set for hunting and another for eating.
- Hard-boiled eggs are safe for up to one week with proper cooking, storing, and handling procedures.
Keep these guidelines in mind for an “egg”cellent holiday with family, friends, and fun!