NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Food Safety for Bunnies & Chicks

Food Safety for Bunnies and Chicks


            If you're planning an Easter egg hunt or cooking eggs for other spring events such as graduations, the USDA has important advice to help you keep your family safe from food borne illness throughout all the celebrations.

            If you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate, be sure to use only food grade dye. The safest food safety guideline is to make two sets of eggs - one for decorating and hiding, another for eating. Or use plastic eggs for hiding.  If you use real eggs for an Easter egg hunt, avoid cracking the egg shells. If the shells crack then bacteria could enter and contaminate the egg inside. Also, hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other bacteria sources and keep hard -cooked eggs chilled in the refrigerator until just before the hunt.

            When shell eggs are hard-cooked, the protective coating is washed away, leaving open pores in the shell where harmful bacteria could enter. Be sure to refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week. Check your refrigerator temperature with an appliance thermometer and adjust the refrigerator temperature to 40°F (Fahrenheit) or below.

            For egg safety - to stay healthy and avoid food borne illness — USDA advises:

  • Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
  • Buy eggs before the "Sell-By" or "EXP" (expiration) date on the carton.
  • Take eggs straight home from the grocery store and refrigerate them right away. Check to be sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below. Don't take eggs out of the carton to put them in the refrigerator -- the carton protects them. Keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator — not on the door.
  • Raw shell eggs in the carton can stay in your refrigerator for three to five weeks from the purchase date. Although the "Sell-By" date might pass during that time, the eggs are still safe to use. (The date is not required by federal law, but some states may require it.)
  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs. To avoid cross-contamination, you should also wash forks, knives, spoons and all counters and other surfaces that touch the eggs with hot water and soap.
  • Don't keep raw or cooked eggs out of the refrigerator more than two hours.
  • Egg dishes such as deviled eggs or egg salad should be used within 3 to 4 days.

        Ham and lamb are popular meat items of spring events. They can be purchased “ready-to-cook” or “ready-to-eat”. Be sure to check the words carefully and follow the cooking instructions that appear on the back of the package. If the product is “ready-to-cook” the instructions usually include terms such as “cook”, “bake” or “roast”. Ham should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 F, lamb to least 145 F., beef roast to 145 F and poultry to 180 F.  Be sure to use a thermometer to measure the temperatures.

      “Ready-to-eat” foods can be real time-savers when you are strapped for time and expecting a big crowd. “Ready-to eat” or “fully cooked” means the foods have been cooked and you need only to open the package and serve. If you want to reheat these products heat hams to 140 F and ribs, roasts and roasted chickens to 165 F. When the eating is over, and there is food leftover, be sure to treat it well so it will be safe to eat later in the day or following days. All the food should be refrigerated in shallow containers for rapid cooling. Remember food poisoning bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures above 40 F. Most leftovers can be kept refrigerated for 3-4 days.

            If you have a question about meat, poultry or egg products, contact the Ramsey County Extension Office at #662-7027or the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at or 1-888-674-6854 ; available Monday through Friday from 10 am – 4 pm.


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