Take precautions when preparing and handling eggs this Easter to avoid hazards that cause food poisoning. Here’re some safety guidelines:
- Decorating hard-boiled eggs at Easter is a fun and popular activity. Sometimes these eggs are reused in egg dishes or eaten as is. Hard-boiled eggs left out at room temperature are not safe to eat. If you want to reuse eggs that have been decorated, be sure to follow these simple tips:
— Thoroughly hard boil eggs and cool the eggs under cold running tap water before putting in the refrigerator.
— When colouring eggs, be sure to use a non-toxic colouring dye and keep eggs cold immediately before and after dyeing.
— Store decorated eggs in a covered container in the refrigerator for no more than one week.
- Be sure to buy refrigerated eggs that are clean and not cracked. Check the best before date and do not purchase eggs that will not be used before this date. Be sure to buy refrigerated items last and put these items away first when you get home. Keep eggs in their original carton as this protects them from damage and contamination.
- Check your refrigerator temperature to make sure it is 4 C or colder. Placing a reliable thermometer in the coldest part of your refrigerator will enable you to check more often.
- Cross-contamination occurs when bacteria are transferred from raw foods to cooked, ready-to-eat foods, usually by unclean hands, cutting surfaces and utensils. To avoid cross-contamination, always wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw eggs, meat and poultry. Use hot, soapy water to wash hands and clean cutting surfaces and utensils. After cleaning, sanitize using a solution of five millilitres of chlorine bleach to one litre of water on cutting surfaces and utensils followed by rinsing with clean water. Let air dry.
- Cook egg dishes thoroughly to 74 C. Serve immediately after cooking or refrigerate right away. Immediately refrigerate food products containing raw eggs, such as cookie dough and batter, if not used for cooking right away.
- Consider using pasteurized eggs instead of raw when preparing egg products that will not be cooked before eating, such as icing, some salad dressings and sauces.
- Refrigerate all leftovers quickly and consume within a few days of preparing. Hot leftovers should be rapidly reheated to at least 74 C.
- A simple food safety rule to follow is: when in doubt, throw it out.
Foodborne illness or “food poisoning,” caused by bacteria and their toxins, viruses and parasites, can occur when foods such as beef, poultry, pork, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs and other dairy products are not handled or prepared in a safe manner.
Food poisoning results in a wide range of health effects ranging from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever and watery or bloody diarrhea.
Eggs may be contaminated with salmonella bacteria, which cause an illness called salmonellosis. Salmonellosis involves sudden onset of headache, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes vomiting.