FDA: Don’t be an Easter egg hunt casualty!

EasterEggs_blogEgg coloring and decorating is a tradition that many take part in this time of year. If the proper precautions are not followed however, your spring-time celebration could take a turn for the worst.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella, which even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may contain.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting 12 to 72 hours after infection, with symptoms usually lasting four to seven days. In extreme cases, some people require hospitalization as a Salmonella infection can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other areas of the body. This is more common in those with a greater risk for severe illness including pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

So, before you break out the food coloring and plan your holiday inspired egg decorations, keep in mind the following tips from the FDA:

  • Keep fresh eggs refrigerated until it’s time to cook them.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling eggs at every step of the process: cooking, cooling, dyeing and hiding. Egg shells are porous and let bacteria penetrate, especially after cooking.
  • Cook the eggs until both the yolk and white are firm, not runny.
  • Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their cartons until ready to dye them. Do not eat hard-cooked eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours (one hour in temperatures 90°F or higher).
  • Don’t color or hide eggs with cracked shells.
  • Use only food coloring or food-grade egg dyes to color eggs. Refrigerate eggs in their cartons immediately after dyeing.
  • When hiding eggs, avoid areas where they could come in contact with dirt, pets, insects, wild animals, birds, reptiles or lawn chemicals. Never hide cracked eggs.
  • Total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed 2 hours (1 hour in temperatures 90°F or higher). Refrigerate eggs immediately after they are found.
  • If you wish to use dyed hard-cooked eggs as a centerpiece or other decoration, cook extra eggs just for this purpose and discard them after use.

For more information and additional precautions, click here.

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