With Easter upon us, Health Canada and other health authorities remind Canadians of the importance of proper handling and preparation of eggs to prevent food borne illness. The following has been adapted from information posted on various official websites. See Sources tab for links to the original sources. Easter Egg SafetyEaster egg decorating and hunting is a popular activity for families. To ensure an enjoyable experience with your family, it is important to remember that eggs can be hazardous if they are not handled properly.
Eggs must be stored, prepared and handled properly to prevent cross contamination, growth of bacteria and food borne illness. They are porous and can be contaminated with harmful bacteria including Salmonella. This bacterium can cause illness including symptoms of nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and fever. Sometimes these eggs are re-used in egg dishes or eaten as is. Hard-boiled eggs left out at room temperature are not safe to eat. If you want to re-use eggs that have been decorated, be sure to follow a few simple tips:
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling any eggs. • Clean and sanitize your work area before and after working with your Easter eggs. Clean food contact surfaces with warm water and a detergent. Rinse with water and sanitize using a bleach solution of 200 ppm (1 teaspoon of bleach / 1 litre of water). • Cool hard boiled eggs after boiling by running cold water over the eggs and refrigerating them immediately. • Use only clean, uncracked eggs. • When colouring use non-toxic food grade dyes (liquid food colouring, fruit drink powders), and store eggs in a covered container. • Refrigerate eggs at 4°C or less before and after dyeing. Eggs should never be left out at room temperature for longer than two hours if you intend to eat them. • Coloured eggs can be safely refrigerated for one week. • When hiding the eggs, keep them away from potential sources of contamination including pets, or dirty surfaces. • Discard eggs that are visibly dirty, cracked or that have not been stored in the refrigerator within two hours.
General Egg SafetyAlthough Salmonella is not very common in Canadian eggs, some people are more susceptible to it, particularly young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Therefore, it is recommended that eggs be cooked thoroughly when serving to people in these high risk groups. You can reduce your risk of contracting food borne illness from eggs by following a few food safety tips.
Shop carefully: Choose only refrigerated eggs with clean and uncracked shells. Do not use an egg if the egg's contents are leaking through the shell or if the egg is stuck to the carton. Check the "best before" date on the package. Keep eggs cold: Eggs should be refrigerated within two hours of purchase and should be placed in the coldest section of the refrigerator in their original carton; eggs should not be kept in the refrigerator door. The carton helps protect the eggs from damage and odours. Don't crack the shell of an egg until you want to use it. Hard-cooked eggs, in shell or peeled, and pickled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Hard-cooked yolks should be used within five days. If you include eggs in your lunch, make sure to include an icepack to keep the eggs cold. Keep clean: Remember to wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and counters carefully with soap and warm water before and after handling raw eggs. This helps avoid potential cross contamination and prevent the spread of food borne illness related to eggs. Cook thoroughly: Eggs and egg-based foods should be cooked thoroughly to ensure they are safe to eat. This includes the yolk part of the egg, which should not be runny. Serve egg dishes immediately after cooking and store any leftovers in containers and refrigerate them within two hours. Uncooked cookie dough and batters made with raw eggs can contain Salmonella and should not be tasted or eaten until they are cooked thoroughly. You should use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs when you are preparing uncooked homemade foods that use raw eggs, such as icing or Caesar salad dressing.