EASTER EGG SAFETY
Dying the Easter eggs can be lots of phun, but egg handling at Easter or at any time during the year provides many opportunities for eggs to become contaminated with bacteria. Here are some tips on how to safely handle eggs at Easter--and all through the year.
Keep fresh eggs refrigerated until it's time to cook them. Eggs are a potentially hazardous food, in the same category as meat, poultry, fish, and milk. In other words, they are capable of supporting the rapid growth of disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella.
The American Egg Board (AEB) recommends this method for boiling the perfect Easter egg: Place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Add enough tap water to come at least 1 inch above eggs. A tablespoon of vinegar can be added to allow better dye coverage after cooking. Cover pan and quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off heat. If necessary, remove pan from burner to prevent further boiling. Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water for 15 minutes. Immediately run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until completely cooled. Refrigerate all hard cooked eggs.
Whatever the style of preparation, eggs should always be cooked well. The Food and Drug Administration recommends cooking eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm, not runny. This way any Salmonella or other harmful bacteria that may be in the eggs will be destroyed.
Do not handle eggs excessively, and wash your hands thoroughly when you do handle them, whether in cooking, cooling, dyeing or hiding. The shell of an egg is very porous and will permit bacteria to penetrate. Most commercial egg producers lightly coat their eggs with a thin spray coating of mineral oil to close the pores against contamination. Cooking the egg in the shell, however, removes that barrier so that your hard cooked eggs are again prone to contamination unless you protect them by proper handling.
Care should be used in choosing hiding places for Easter eggs. Make sure to avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals. Some egg suppliers offer pre-cooked Easter eggs, decorated or plain, that are resin coated for extra protection against contamination. The resin coating also doubles the eggs' shelf life so that they will keep for two weeks instead of just one.