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Around the Home: Handle eggs with care to avoid illness

POSTED: March 28, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Easter is almost here, with little girls in frilly dress, little boys in crisp new suits, and egg hunts everywhere.

Eggs are timeless symbols of spring and renewal at Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Roasted or hard-cooked eggs are also used for Seder, the joyful family dinner and ceremony held in Jewish homes on Passover. The egg is not eaten during the ritual part of the Seder, but many families serve chopped hard-cooked eggs as an appetizer.

Whether following the custom to decorate eggs at Easter or for observance of Seder, remember these safety tips for handling eggs:

Buy eggs only from refrigerated cases. Inspect them before purchasing to make sure there are no cracked eggs.

Store eggs in their original cartons in coldest area of the refrigerator (below 40 degrees F). The refrigerator door doesn’t stay cold enough to protect eggs.

The danger zone for bacterial growth is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees F. After two hours, there’s enough time for bacteria to start producing and causing problems, including salmonella, if ingested.

Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water, rinse and dry well before handling eggs. Wash your children’s hands after they’ve handled the eggs.

If you’re planning an Easter egg hunt, consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where eggs might come in contact with animals or lawn chemicals.

Be sure to remember obscure hiding places so you can retrieve them if they are not found. Make sure all hidden eggs are accounted for after the hunt and refrigerate them immediately. Discard any cracked eggs.

If you plan to use decorated Easter eggs for display for any length of time, follow one simple, safe rule: Don’t eat them.

Refrigerated, unshelled hard-cooked eggs should be used within a week.

To minimize health risks, cook two sets of eggs — one for an Easter hunt or display and the other for eating. Refrigerate the eggs to be eaten.

When cooking eggs, don’t overcook because high temperatures can make them tough and rubbery.

When decorating, take only a few out of the refrigerator at a time. Decorate and put them back into the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Remember, if food safety is a concern, you can always use plastic Easter eggs containing candy.

To make perfect hard-cooked eggs, place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan covered with cold water an inch or two above the eggs. Cover the pan and quickly bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.

Let eggs stand, covered in the hot water for 12, 15 or 18 minutes, depending on the egg size (medium, large and extra large).

When the time is up, immediately run cold water over the eggs until the water has completely cooled. Add a few ice cubes to speed cooling. Remove cooled eggs from the water, place them in a covered container and refrigerate until ready for use.

To make peeling hard-cooked eggs easier, buy eggs at least five days before you plan to cook them. Fresh eggs are always harder to peel after cooking. If you must use fresh eggs, put them in a steamer basket and steam for about 20 minutes.

If you have gotten hard-cooked eggs mixed in with fresh eggs, you can tell an egg is fresh or cooked by spinning it on its side. A hard cooked egg will spin smoothly, while a raw egg will wobble.

Egg cartons may be packed with a Julian date, the date the eggs were packed. To read a Julian date which is usually on the short side of the carton, the number represents the consecutive days of the year with the number 001 as Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 as 365.

One way to keep up with the age of the eggs is to write the purchase date on the carton. Eggs will stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to five weeks.

Egg producers must place safe handling instructions on cartons of eggs that haven’t been treated to destroy salmonella. Eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella — by in-shell pasteurization, for example — aren’t required to carry safe handling instructions.

For more tips, ideas and recipes, visit the Georgia Egg Commission web site:

Ginger Bennett is a Program Specialist II-Radon Educator with the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. Contact: 770-535-8290;;

Radon test kit alert

The price is going up on radon test kits offered by the UGA Radon Education Program. Kits are $5 at the Hall County Extension Office through Friday, when the price becomes $8. The UGA Radon Education Program is funded by an EPA grant slated to end Sept. 30.







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