Per a FSIS Media Release, USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline receives many calls during the spring season related to the preparation of traditional religious holiday celebrations.
To ensure food safety when using eggs, USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline suggests that consumers do the following:
Buy eggs before the “Sell-By” or “EXP” (expiration) date on the carton.
Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
Take eggs straight home from the grocery store and refrigerate them right away. Check to be sure your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees 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.
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs. To avoid cross-contamination, wash forks, knives, spoons and all counters and other surfaces that touch the eggs with hot water and soap.
If eggs remain at room temperature for more than two hours, then they should not be eaten.
Egg-safety questions from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
Are decorated Easter eggs safe to eat?
If you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate be sure to use only food grade dye. Some people make two sets of eggs–one for decorating and then hiding, another for eating. Others use plastic eggs for hiding.
Are eggs that have been hidden safe to eat?
For an Easter egg hunt, avoid cracking the egg shells. If the shells crack then bacteria could contaminate the egg inside. Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other bacteria sources. Keep hard-cooked eggs chilled in the refrigerator until just before the hunt.
Can I eat eggs that have been left out without being refrigerated?
The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours. Be sure to refrigerate the “found” eggs right away until you eat them. Eggs found hours later or the next day should be thrown out.
Eggs play an important role on the Seder plate during Passover celebrations. If that egg sits out at room temperature for more than two hours then it should not be eaten.
Since the hard-cooked eggs that are usually served to each person as part of the special dinner are meant to be eaten, keep those eggs in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 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 degrees F (Fahrenheit) or below.
How long do eggs and egg dishes keep when stored in the refrigerator?
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.)
Egg dishes such as deviled eggs or egg salad should be used within three to four days. And hard-cooked eggs should be eaten within a week.