Don’t Let the Easter Bunny Bring Foodborne Illness in Your Basket

— Written By Jeannie Leonard and last updated by Jill Cofer
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Easter basket with eggsSo as Easter approaches this Sunday and we all think of our loved traditions, we need to still remember how important our safety is at this time. Whether it is our safety due to coronavirus or food safety related to those wonderful Easter eggs, we need to remember to be safe with all our traditions.

Easter egg coloring is a tradition many families participate in each year. If you are anything like my family, it normally requires any member who has a child (no matter their age) to come together and color eggs. This is a long-standing tradition and children of all ages (including adults) love to participate and make the eggs their own. Coloring however is just a part of the process. Of course, we all know the reason we color the eggs is to hide them. Whether you typically just have an Easter Egg hunt, or you participate in the tradition of the Easter bunny hiding them we still have to think about the eggs themselves.

Eggs come to most of us in cartons that make them look clean and ready to eat. However, with eggs there is always the possibility that Salmonella bacteria might be present. Salmonella is a bacteria that causes foodborne illness and can be found both inside the shell of the egg and on the outside of the shell. For this reason, food safety practices are very important when handling your Easter Eggs. Remember that when you are boiling them to prepare for coloring that you want to make sure to cook them all the way. Also remember that you will want to cool them and place them back in the fridge if not coloring immediately. Eggs can only be a room temperature for a max of 2 hours (total) before they must be discarded for food safety. That pesky bacteria loves to try and grow wherever it can. Also, you need to remember that 2-hour window when it comes to hiding the eggs. If the eggs are at room temperature or above for more than 2 hours, they must be discarded so they don’t make anyone sick. Also remember we live in Florida so sometimes we get hotter, so if the eggs are above 90 degrees they must be discarded after 1 hour. Now all this doesn’t mean that your coloring and hiding traditions are ruined, it just means you may have to change the way you handle your eggs.

Let’s look at a few different options you can choose from:

  1. You can boil the eggs and color them while keeping within a 1-hour time frame and then use the other 1-hour time frame to hunt and hide your eggs as long as the weather permits (temperature is what allows the bacteria to grow). All the while you still be able to use those wonderful colored eggs for delicious meals later.
  2. You can boil the eggs and color them while keeping within that 2-hour time frame to keep your food safe and just use the colored eggs for eating or making an egg related dish. For hiding and hunting you can use those plastic ones so you don’t have to think about food safety.
  3. You can also boil the eggs, color them, hide and hunt them with no time requirements and just throw them away at the end of the day to keep everybody safe.

It doesn’t matter which options you decide to use, just remember to keep your food safe (the eggs) so everyone can have a happy, healthy, fun Easter!

Happy Easter Everyone!