Egg Safety


  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling eggs at every stage in the process (cooking, cooling, dyeing).
  • If eggs cannot be colored right away, store them in their cartons in the refrigerator. Be sure to wash them once you are ready to use them.
  • Do not color or hide cracked eggs.
  • Store the colored eggs in a clean and sanitized container in the refrigerator until hiding time.
  • Eat only eggs with uncracked shells.
  • Avoid eating eggs that have been out of the refrigerator more than two hours.

If you are planning to use colored eggs as decoration (such as for a centerpiece), and the eggs will be out of refrigeration for many hours or several days, prepare extra eggs. Discard the extra eggs after they have served their decorative purpose.

Eggs are perishable and must be properly stored, prepared, and served. Raw eggs contain a risk of Salmonella, a bacteria that can't be seen, touched or tasted.


Easter Egg decorating ideas from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Egg Council.

Easy Hard-Cooked Eggs

  1. Put eggs in a single layer in a saucepan and add enough tap water to come at least one inch above the eggs.
  2. Cover.
  3. Put on high heat until water boils.
  4. Turn off heat. If necessary, remove pan from burner to prevent further boiling.
  5. Let stand in the hot water 15 minutes for large eggs. Adjust the time up or down by approximately three minutes for each size larger or smaller.
  6. Cool immediately and thoroughly in cold water.
  7. Decorate and refrigerate until ready for use.

Eggs to be decorated may be either hard-cooked or blown out of their shells. The hard-cooked variety is a bit more sturdy for children to work with, while the blown shells are the best if you are making an egg tree or want to keep the eggs on display for a considerable time.

If eggs are to be dyed, wash in a mild detergent solution to restore the oil coating so that the color adheres more evenly.

Empty an eggshell
Use a long needle to make a small hole in the small end of the egg and a larger hole in the large end. Carefully chip away bits of shell around the large hole until it's the size of a penny. Stick the needle into the yolk to break it. Shake the egg large-end down over a bowl until the contents come out. Rinse the shell under cool running water and let it dry.

Or, make a slightly smaller hole in the large end of the egg only. Press the bulb of a kitchen baster to expel the air and insert it into the egg. Release the bulb to siphon out the shell contents. Rinse and let dry.

Ever See a Plaid Egg?
How about a plaid or striped egg this year? Just wrap eggs with rubber bands or strips of narrow masking tape before placing them in the dye. Be sure the egg is completely dry before removing the bands.

Rainbow Nest Eggs are easy to make

  • All you need are eggs, a 6-inch square of thin cotton cloth or cheesecloth for each egg, twist ties, string or rubber bands, food coloring, and plenty of newspapers to protect your work area.
  • Use hard-cooked eggs. Wet a piece of cotton cloth with water and wring it out so it remains slightly damp. Wrap the cloth around the egg, either twisting loosely and fastening it at both ends, or bundling the edges together and fastening them at the top.
  • Place undiluted food coloring drops onto the cloth-wrapped egg in circles, stripes, or any other pattern you can imagine. Repeat with as many, or as few, other colors as you like.
  • Twist the dye-spotted cloth more tightly around the egg, so the colors run together to produce a rainbow's swirl of color. Now for the best part - unwrap the egg to see what's happened! You're likely to be surprised each time. As you finish each egg, set it back in a clean and sanitized container to dry.
  • Rainbow Nest Eggs make an especially attractive display when placed on a wreath of fresh greenery!


Eggs are perishable food and must be properly stored and cooked. Follow these precautions when handling both raw eggs and foods in which eggs are an ingredient, such as quiche or baked custard:

  • Avoid eating raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs such as homemade caesar salad, hollandaise sauce, and mayonnaise. Homemade ice cream and eggnog should also be avoided unless made with a cooked, custard-type base. Commercial forms of these products are safe to serve because they are made with pasteurized liquid eggs. Commercial pasteurization destroys Salmonella bacteria.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. This is especially important for pregnant women, and other high risk individuals most at risk for foodborne illness. Fried eggs should be cooked on both sides or in a covered pan. Scrambled eggs should be cooked until firm throughout.

Consumers should also follow the usual safe food-handling practices for eggs:

  • Buy refrigerated grade AA or A eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
  • At home, keep eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible at a temperature no higher than 40 degrees F. Do not wash eggs before storing or using them. Washing is a routine part of commercial egg processing and rewashing is unnecessary.
  • Use raw shell eggs within five weeks after bringing them home. Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within one week after cooking. Use leftover yolks and whites within four days after removing them from the shell.
  • Avoid keeping raw or cooked eggs and egg-containing foods out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, including time for preparing and serving (but not cooking). If you hide hard-cooked eggs for an egg hunt, either follow the two-hour rule or do not eat the eggs. (Or substitute plastic eggs for your egg hunt.)
  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
  • Review traditional recipes that, when served, contain raw or under-cooked eggs. Replace with recipes that, when served, contain thoroughly cooked eggs.
  • Serve cooked eggs and egg-containing foods hot, immediately after cooking; or hold for buffet-style serving at 140 degrees F or higher; or refrigerate at 40 degrees F or below for serving later. Use within three to four days.
  • When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing food or leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.

Resource: American Egg Board