Decorating Easter Eggs is a traditional part of the holiday, but what can you do with leftover extra eggs after the hunt is over, and you’ve eaten all the chocolate bunnies? Actually eating the eggs you colored on Saturday for Sunday’s egg hunt may be off limits due to safety concerns.
One of the common symbols of the Easter holiday, along with bunnies and baskets, is the colorfully decorated Easter Egg. Parents hard-boil a pot full of eggs, and kids spend hours lovingly coloring them. Children dip the eggs in different colors of dye, paint them, coat them in glue and glitter, or even cover them in stickers and feathers. Once they kids have decorated the eggs, parents hide them in the yard or around the home for the children to find and collect during an egg hunt. After all of this, can it still be safe to eat the eggs?
Materials used in egg decoration
Is it safe to eat the eggs? It all depends on the materials your kids used when they were decorating the egg. The shells of eggs are porous, so whatever materials go on the outside will pass through into the edible portion of the egg, so don’t let your kids eat Easter Eggs that have been decorated using materials not specifically intended for food decoration. Many types of glue and paint, for example, are not meant for human consumption, and eating eggs decorated with these materials is unsafe.
Food dyes, such as those found in the cake-decorating section of the grocery store, are non-toxic, and will not affect the quality of the egg. Most egg-decorating kits are non-toxic, and Easter Eggs created with these kits are edible as well, when eaten within a reasonable time frame. Most crayons and Elmer’s glue are also not poisonous, and your kids can use them without worrying about eating the eggs later as well.
Salmonella and Easter eggs
Easter eggs can harbor dangerous bacteria, particularly under one of two conditions. If either of these conditions exist, do not eat the eggs:
- Lack of refrigeration: Keep hard boiled eggs refrigerated, in order to prevent the growth of salmonella, a form of bacteria that causes food poisoning. After you’ve cooked the eggs, don’t leave them unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours at any time, according to the Egg Safety Center. During decoration, keep individual eggs in the refrigerator until you are ready to decorate them. Return the egg to the fridge as soon as decoration is complete. Hide the eggs immediately prior to the egg hunt, and discard any eggs that are not found within 2 hours.
- Cracked shells: A cracked shell can let in bacteria, which makes the egg inedible. After the egg hunt, inspect all Easter Eggs carefully, and discard any eggs that have breaks or cracks in the shell, in order to prevent food poisoning.
Eating Easter eggs
Peeling the eggs after an Easter Egg hunt offers a high-protein snack that’s a healthy alternative to the chocolate bunnies found in most Easter Baskets. In addition, using the eggs, instead of throwing them away, teaches kids an important lesson about conservation – just don’t sacrifice safety for conservation.