NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Egg Food Safety

Egg Food Safety



          Many families and individuals celebrate Easter by coloring eggs.  Egg safety when dying eggs is important - especially if you want to eat them.

          Start by purchasing eggs wisely, whether you are dyeing them or scrambling them for tomorrow. Check the expiration date on the carton. Egg cartons with the USDA grade mark must display a “Julian date” - the date the eggs were packed.  The Julian calendar beings with January 1 as Day 001 and ends with December 31 as Day 365. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grade mark; this date cannot exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days.

          Start the egg dyeing process by washing your hands before you start handling the eggs.  Cook the eggs completely, and then cool completely.  A hard-cooked egg has both a firm white and yolk. Hard-cooked eggs should never be boiled - simmer them in water. If boiled or cooked too long, the protein toughens or becomes rubbery and a greenish or purplish ring forms around the yolk. Extremely fresh eggs are not recommended when making hard-boiled eggs. They are very difficult to peel. If any eggs crack during the cooking, do not use them. Eggs should be cold to the touch before dying, 

          Use a non-toxic dye to dye the eggs, such as a dye that you purchase in a kit offered by most grocery stores.  Once the eggs are decorated, store in the refrigerator immediately.  Cooked Easter eggs will last about a week or two in your refrigerator. However, if they have been mishandled during the dyeing process, they might go bad earlier.  

          Eat or hide? While it may be fun to hide real Easter eggs, it’s best to use plastic or other artificial eggs for an Easter egg hunt if you plan to eat the real ones afterward. The risk of not finding an egg after the hunt is always a possibility – you might be playing “What’s That Smell?” as you try to find it later.  If displaying your egg art is part of your tradition, make sure not to eat any eggs that have sat out longer than two hours. Bottom line: If you plan to eat the eggs, make sure to keep them cold.

          If you dye eggs at your house, remember that no matter how beautiful they are, they're still food, if you choose to eat them! Make them safe!


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