Decorating and hunting eggs during the Easter holiday is fun for kids (and even some adults). Around here we even have a few community and rec centers that are hiding eggs for the holidays. So we want to remind our friends in public health to spread the word on foodborne illness and egg hunts. After all the last thing we want to put in our Easter basket is a foodborne illness. If you have plans for an Easter Egg hunt, the Partnership for Food Safety Education has some great tips to keep in mind:
- Only use clean eggs that have been kept refrigerated. Eggs that are dirty or cracked should be thrown out.
- Cook your eggs (hard-boil) before decorating them.
- Wash your hands before handling cooked eggs and do so carefully so they do not crack. Cracks in the eggs are opportunities for bacteria to get inside.
- When decorating the eggs, use only products that are considered food-grade. This includes egg dyes and liquid food coloring.
- Store your decorated eggs on a shelf in the refrigerator. Don’t let them sit out at room temperature.
- Hide the eggs carefully so they are protected from dirt, pets, wildlife, insects, and lawn chemicals like fertilizer or pesticides.
- If the decorated eggs are to be eaten, they should be hidden, hunted, and either eaten or refrigerated within 2 hours. In other words, don’t leave the decorated eggs out longer than 2 hours. If the temperature is warmer than 90 degrees outside (and it has been in parts of Texas) then you only have 1 hour. Decorated eggs that are kept at room temperature for longer than 2 hours should be considered only as decoration and then discarded.
Personally, I like the plastic eggs that can be filled with special treats. After the hunt is over, the plastic containers can be washed and reused the next year. This also allows you to be a little creative in the type of treats that kids get when the eggs are found.