Although quite festive, Easter eggs can make you sick

March 25, 2016

Eggs are often a part of many Easter celebrations and while families enjoy dyeing and decorating hard-boiled eggs, food safety should be factored into the fun.

Louisiana State University (LSU) AgCenter food safety expert Wenqing Xu said in a recent article that since chickens carry Salmonella, it is possible for them to transmit this bacteria to their eggs. This means the proper food safety precautions should begin with handwashing.

“Always wash your hands before and after handling, cooking and dyeing eggs,” Xu said in the article. She also added that it can be unsafe to eat eggs that crack during the boiling and/or the dyeing process — especially if they are not boiled long enough or stored properly afterwards.

Xu also recommends allowing the eggs to cool and returning them to the refrigerator before dyeing them. She said this is called the “hurdle technique.”

“By cooking, then chilling, you are setting up hurdles for the bacteria to cross over. By adding the more obstacles, the greater the chance of eliminating Salmonella.”

Xu also explained that it’s important to only use food-grade dyes and decorations on your eggs, and that they should not sit out at room temperature for longer than two hours. If they are left out longer than that, they should be thrown away.

If your egg-decorating plans include drilling a hole in the egg and blowing out the egg white and yolk, make sure to clean and sanitize the eggs and take extra precautions if using your mouth to blow out the insides, Xu said.

In addition to following the proper guidelines for eggs, the article also emphasized the need for proper sanitation when handling baby chicks, which children may receive as pets at Easter time.

Before buying a chick, ask if it has been tested for Salmonella, Xu said. “If it hasn’t, don’t buy it.”

If chicks are brought indoors, keep them contained to a specific area of the house to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria. Proper handwashing is also very important after handling baby chicks as well.

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Category: Food Safety, Food & Beverage, Poultry, Microbiology