Food safety facts about eggs
Before you decorate and cook your eggs for the upcoming Easter holiday, be aware of important food safety facts that could save you from experiencing salmonella symptoms.
With Easter right around the corner, eggs will be an important part of celebrations. Fresh eggs must be handled carefully. Fresh eggs have a high contamination risk of salmonella. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with salmonella. The FDA says that salmonella is the most common cause of food poisoning in the United States. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting 12 to 72 hours after infection. Salmonella symptoms usually last four to seven days. In severe cases, hospitalization may occur if infection spreads into the blood stream. Michigan State University Extension reminds that people with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women, young children, and older adults may experience more severe illness. Salmonella can be found on both the outside and inside of eggs, it is important to guard against cross contamination before they are cooked.
The FDA implements strict regulation to prevent contamination of eggs on farms and during shipping and storage, but consumers play an important role in preventing illnesses associated with eggs.
Here are some reminders and tips about using eggs at Easter:
- Choose fresh eggs; open the carton before buying to check for broken shells.
- Eggs should be refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
- Wash your hands thoroughly, before and after handling uncooked shell eggs.
- Wash eggs in hot water and rinse in a solution of one teaspoon chlorine bleach per half-cup of water, if you plan to hollow out eggshells through your mouth.
- Use only food grade dyes and food safe decorating materials.
- Wash hands between all the steps of cooking, cooling, dyeing and decorating.
- Once cooked, eggs are decorated, return to refrigerator within two hours. They can be stored up to one week inside the refrigerator, not in the door.
- Consider using one set of eggs for decorating and eating, and another set for decorating and hunting. Or to be safe, use plastic eggs instead of real ones.