Extension Connection: Easter good time to review egg safety

Easter is just around the corner and USDA has some great tips on how to keep your eggs safe this year.

Easter eggs are fun to decorate, so be sure to use only food grade dye. Also, be sure eggs are kept refrigerated at 41&161;F or lower until you are ready to hide them.

Eggs should be hidden where they&8217;re protected from dirt, pets and other bacteria sources. Remember that food can not be left out for more than two hours and remain safe, so eggs need to be hid and found within that time frame.

If eggs are not going to be eaten within two hours, they need to be kept in a cooler or refrigerator until you are ready to eat them.

When you are purchasing eggs from the grocery store, they should be in a refrigerated case. The eggs should be clean and the shells should not be cracked. Always make sure eggs are purchased prior to the sell-by or expiration dates.

Raw shell eggs should be used within three to five weeks. Hard-cooked eggs can be refrigerated for up to a week. Leftover yolks and whites should be used within four days.

Have you ever had your eggs to get cracked on the way home from the store? If this happens, break them into a container, cover it tightly, and store them in the refrigerator. They need to be used within two days.

If you are not planning to use the eggs right away, you can store them in the freezer. If you want to freeze whole eggs, they should be taken out of the shell.

The whites and yolks need to be beat together and then frozen. Egg whites can be frozen by themselves. Frozen eggs will keep in the freezer for about a year.

If for any reason, eggs are frozen in their shells, they must be kept frozen until you&8217;re ready to use them. Place them in the refrigerator and let them defrost and then discard any cracked shells.

Always be sure to wash your hands and anything that may come in contact with raw eggs thoroughly with warm, soapy water before and after contact with the eggs.

Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160&161;F, as measured by a food thermometer.

For more tips on egg products, contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll free at 1-888-674-6854. Also for questions on this and other food safety related things contact Angela Treadaway at 410-3696