How to be Egg-stra Safe with Eggs

Hunting for Easter Eggs provides enjoyment for kids and families alike. Those plastic little eggs unlock some sweet treats or coins and money, but what about the eggs that you purchase in the store? There may be some hidden surprises in those eggs, which are not necessarily the good kind. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 142,000 illnesses each year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with Salmonella.1 However, you can play an essential role in egg safety and preventing food-borne illness by knowing what to look for when purchasing eggs as well as how to store and handle them properly.

At the Grocery Store:

  • Only buy eggs from a refrigerated case or refrigerator.
  • Open the carton and check to make sure the eggs are clean and that none of them are cracked.
  • The “sell-by" or "expiration” date is not required by federal government but may be required by the egg laws in the state where the eggs are marketed. Always purchase eggs before the sell-by or expiration date on the carton.2
  • When purchasing egg products such as liquid eggs or hardboiled eggs, look for containers that are tightly sealed and packages that are unopened.

At Home:

  • Store eggs at a cool 45°F and store them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Keeping them on the refrigerator door could lead to temperature fluctuations resulting in bacterial growth.2 Eggs can be kept refrigerated for approximately 3-5 weeks.
  • Wash your hands, utensils, equipment and work surfaces thoroughly in hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after you come into contact with any food.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C).1 Use a food thermometer to be sure.

Safety tips at Easter:

  • If you’re having an Easter egg hunt, consider hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.3
  • Make sure you find all the eggs you’ve hidden and then refrigerate them. Discard cracked eggs.
  • As long as the eggs are NOT out of refrigeration for more than two hours, they will be safe to eat. Do not eat eggs that have been out of refrigeration more than two hours. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their shells and use them within one week. If you are planning to use colored eggs as decorations, (for centerpieces, etc.) where the eggs will be out of refrigeration for many hours or several days, discard them after they have served their decorative purpose.3

Heather Shasa MS, RD


1USDA. Playing It Safe with Eggs. 28 Feb 2013.

2Egg Safety Center. Egg Safety. 2010.

3Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Poultry & Egg Division. Eggs Handling and Safety Tips at Easter.