Easter is almost here and eggs may be a part of your family celebration. Although Salmonella is not common in Canadian eggs, some people are more susceptible to the bacteria, particularly young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Therefore, eggs should be cooked thoroughly when serving them to people in these high-risk groups. And remember, decorated eggs that have been left out on display are not safe to eat!
It is estimated that approximately four million Canadians experience some form of food-related illness every year. Many of these illnesses could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques. Keep reading for tips to prevent foodborne illness.
What you should do:
Shop carefully: Choose refrigerated eggs with clean shells that aren’t cracked. Pick up eggs and other cold foods at the end of your shopping trip so they stay cold. Don’t buy eggs if liquid has leaked through the shell or if they are stuck to the carton. Check the “best before” date. While all eggs sold in Canadian grocery stores are graded Canada A, those sold elsewhere (such as at farms and farmers’ markets) may be ungraded. Ungraded eggs are not subject to the same food safety standards as graded eggs and have a higher chance of being contaminated by harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. Check for the maple leaf symbol on the carton or ask the vendor if you’re unsure whether the eggs are graded.
Keep eggs cold:
Refrigerate eggs within two hours of purchase and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator in their original carton; don’t keep eggs in the refrigerator door. The carton helps protect the eggs from damage and odours. Whether raw or cooked, eggs shouldn’t be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Hard-cooked eggs can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container, either in the shell, peeled, or pickled, for up to one week. Hard-cooked yolks should be eaten within five days. If you pack eggs in your lunch, include an ice pack to keep them cold.
Remember to wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, and counters carefully with soap and warm water before and after handling raw eggs. This helps to avoid potential cross contamination and prevent the spread of foodborne illness.
Raw eggs can contain harmful bacteria. Eggs and egg-based foods should be cooked thoroughly to ensure they are safe to eat. Serve egg dishes immediately after cooking. Store any leftovers in containers and refrigerate them within two hours. Uncooked cookie dough and batters made with raw eggs can contain Salmonella and should not be tasted or eaten until cooked thoroughly. Use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs when you are preparing uncooked homemade foods that use raw eggs, such as icing or Caesar salad dressing.
Decorated eggs that have been left out on display are not safe to eat. If you want to eat eggs that you decorate, they should be hard boiled thoroughly and cooled (either by immersing in cold tap water or on the counter until they have reached room temperature) before putting them in the refrigerator. Use a non-toxic colouring dye on eggs. Be sure that eggs are kept cold before and after they are dyed. Between cooling and dyeing, they should be out of the refrigerator for no more than two hours in total.
Coloured hard-boiled eggs can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.