Easter is upon us, meaning many will soon be chowing down on chocolate, hot cross buns and of course, eggs. Like Christmas, Easter is celebrated with a glut of culinary delicacies which date back hundreds of years. These traditional foods, though deeply unhealthy, are entrenched in our culture — and no dietician or nutritionist is going to stop us enjoying a few sweet treats when Good Friday comes around.
Of these Easter foods, none are quite so synonymous with the season as the egg. Eggs are traditionally eaten for breakfast on Easter Sunday, and their shells are decorated by kids in the run up to the holiday. Though we’re keen not to demote the importance of scoffing eggs at Easter, it’s vital they’re handled, prepared and cooked properly to make sure everyone stays safe over the Easter weekend.
Eggs are perishable, and can contain Salmonella bacteria — one of the leading causes of food poisoning in the UK. This bacteria is almost impossible to spot, and can reside in what look like perfectly happy, unbroken eggs.
So, in order to keep you and your family safe from the dangers of Salmonella this Easter, here are half a dozen (see what we did there?) egg safety tips.
Choose Fresh Eggs
Whether you’re buying them to decorate or cook, try to buy the freshest eggs you can find. Doing so will reduce the risk of serving bad eggs, and will also mean they taste great with your soldiers on Easter morning. When selecting a good box of eggs, always look out for the British Egg Industry Council’s Lion quality mark. Producers use this motif to show that all of their laying hens are vaccinated against Salmonella enteritidis, and that the produce adheres to the appropriate freshness standards.
Refrigerate Eggs at 4°C or Lower
We’re all guilty of storing eggs in the cupboard, but really they should be kept refrigerated at all times. Once you’ve got them home, keep the eggs in their carton and place them on a shelf in the fridge (not in the door). When taking eggs out of the box, be sure to not leave them sitting on the side for too long, as this could cause ‘sweating’. Sweating occurs when cold eggs are left at room temperature, and the temperature change can promote bacteria growth inside the shell.
Wash Your Hands
As with any fresh produce, you should wash your hands before and after handling eggs — particularly their uncooked shells. Neglect to keep your hands clean when preparing and cooking eggs, and you could spread bacteria to other items, doubling the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria.
Use Eggs within 3-5 Weeks
Follow the refrigeration guidelines above, and your eggs should still be safe to consume within 3-5 weeks after the purchase date (depending on how fresh they were at the time). Any longer than five weeks and bacteria will start growing inside, in which case the eggs should be disposed of.
Be Careful When Making Caesar Dressing, Custard, or Mayonnaise
Though you’re unlikely to be making Caesar salad over the Easter weekend, you’ll want some custard on your Sunday pudding and some mayonnaise for your sarnies come Monday morning. When making any of the aforementioned sauces, always use fresh eggs with the Lion Quality Mark, to limit the risk of Salmonella infection. Recipes like these require the egg to be only lightly cooked, which increases the risk of poisoning.
Be Sure to Use Food-Grade Dyes for Decorating
Decorating eggs is a popular pastime at Easter, but it’s important to follow a few rules to ensure you and the kids stay safe. When decorating eggs, always use food colouring or dye which meets food safety standards, and dye them in water which is warmer than the eggs themselves.
Whatever the holiday or season, Shieldyourself are experts in food safety and hygiene. We help some of the UK’s most popular hospitality businesses meet food safety regulations, including Yo! Sushi and Radisson Blu. To find out more about what we can offer you, visit the Shieldyourself homepage or call us on 020 3603 4874.
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