Dyeing eggs has become a tradition for many families, but through the years food safety has become a big concern. Salmonella has become a buzzword related to the handling of eggs, reports Christy Walter for the Sentinel.

During this time of year, eggs are handled more than usual, and each handling provides the opportunity for bacteria to come into contact with the egg. It is important, therefore, that you always wash your hands (with soap and warm water) before handling eggs at every step. This includes cooking, cooling, dyeing and hiding. The following are some safety tips on how you can keep your family safe while having fun decorating your Easter eggs:

  • When dyeing your eggs, you do not want to dye eggs that have cracked during the cooking process. You may eat them without dyeing or use them in an egg dish. Make sure that they and all other hard-boiled eggs are stored in the refrigerator and consumed within one week. If you will not be dyeing your eggs right after cooking, place them in their original carton and store them in the refrigerator until dyeing time, this will decrease the chance for any bacteria to have the opportunity to grow.
  • When you are ready to dye your eggs, remove them from the refrigerator and have fun. Use food coloring or a food-grade dye to color your eggs. After dyeing, you should place the eggs into the refrigerator again until time to hide them. Consider safe hiding areas for your eggs; you want to avoid any areas where the egg might come in contact with bacteria. Once the eggs are found, if they are not to be eaten right away, they need to be put back in the refrigerator.
  • You should never eat an egg that has been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Also, if the egg has become cracked during hiding, do not eat it. To be safe, the time it takes to hide and find the eggs should be less than two hours. As a safe alternative, you may want to choose to hide plastic eggs that contain prizes in them and save the hard-boiled eggs to eat after the egg hunt.
  • If you plan to use your decorated eggs as a centerpiece or other decoration where they will be out of refrigeration for more than two hours, do not consume those eggs and discard them once you are finished.
  • Many recipes for bunny-shaped cakes or other Easter treats may call for raw egg white frosting. However, anytime raw eggs are eaten, there is a risk of salmonella food poisoning. Therefore, it would be wise to find a frosting recipe that uses a hot syrup and egg white. If the egg white mixture reaches 160 degrees, if should be safe. Other alternatives include using a pasteurized powdered meringue available where cake-decorating supplies are sold.