Eggs are an important part of Spring religious holidays, both as decorations and for dining. If you’re planning an Easter egg hunt or cooking eggs for your Passover Seder, take time to educate yourself about the following common health and safety issues specific to eggs, courtesy of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
"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."
It’s also important if you plan to decorate real Easter eggs this year and eat the eggs you decorate, to be certain to use only food-grade dye for coloration — and if you plan to hide those eggs, be careful not to crack the shell, or bacteria could contaminate the center. Furthermore, eggs should be hidden in areas where they won’t be exposed to dirt, pets and other bacteria sources. Hard boiled eggs should be chilled in the fridge until just before the hunt. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours. Any eggs found hours later or the next day should be destroyed, as they’re unsafe for consumption.
Eggs are also key components of Passover celebrations, but any Seder plate that egg sits out at room temperature for more than two hours should also be destroyed. Since the hard-cooked eggs typically served to each person as part of the special dinner are meant to be eaten, keep them in the refrigerator until just prior to serving time.
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