A few years ago, I crossed paths with an individual who was eager to eat the dyed eggs after a lengthy outdoor Easter egg hunt. My reaction was “No! Don’t do that!”. Foodborne illness is a concern with both raw and cooked egg products. In the case of eating the eggs after a hunt, there is a risk that unsafe bacteria are present if eggs have been kept above 41° F for more than two hours.
Salmonella may be present in fresh shell eggs and can be found both inside and outside of eggs that look perfectly normal. Protecting against cross contamination before they are cooked and storing both uncooked and cooked eggs will result in safe eggs for hunting and eating. Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator at 41° F or lower. Avoid keeping eggs in the door of the refrigerator, as they may be subject to warmer temperatures if the door is opened frequently.
Tips for safely dyeing eggs:
- Wash hands with soap and water before dyeing the eggs.
- Use a food-safe coloring and decorations if eggs will be eaten.
- Handle eggs carefully to prevent cracking. If shells crack, bacteria could contaminate the inside.
- Wash hands and food contact surfaces that have come in contact with raw eggs.
- Hard cook the eggs and allow them to cool.
- Dye eggs and return them to the refrigerator immediately until ready to hide.
- Hide eggs in areas protected from dirt, pets and other sources of bacteria.
- The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed two hours. Only uncracked eggs should be returned to the refrigerator until eaten.
- Eat properly refrigerated hard-cooked eggs within one week.
Following safe food handling practices will keep everyone healthy and happy at your Easter egg hunts.
Food Safety News, 2019. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/04/a-dozen-egg-safety-tips-for-easter/