Easter is quickly approaching, and many people celebrating the Easter holiday will come into contact with eggs. After all, a staple of Easter celebrations is egg decorating, hiding and hunting for eggs. Along with the fun comes opportunity for the eggs to become contaminated with bacteria. However, following some simple tips can help avoid contamination and illness:
1) Keep fresh eggs refrigerated until it is time to cook them. This will help to prevent disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella.
2) The AEB (American Egg Board) suggests a safe boiling method: 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.
3) Eggs should always be cooked well. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration( advises that eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and the white are firm rather than runny. This destroys Salmonella or other harmful bacteria that may be in the eggs.
4) Wash your hands thoroughly when handling eggs. The shell is very porous and will permit bacteria to penetrate. Although most commercial egg producers lightly coat their eggs to close the pores against contamination, cooking the egg in the shell removes that barrier. Hard cooked eggs therefore are prone to contamination unless you protect them by proper handling.
5) Use care when hiding the eggs. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, lawn chemicals, or the like.
6) Choose pre-cooked Easter eggs, decorated or plain, that are resin coated. The coating provides extra protection against contamination and doubles the eggs’ shelf life so they can keep for two weeks rather than one.