Easter brings opportunities for families to enjoy egg decorating and participating in old-fashioned Easter egg hunts. Do not hide the same eggs you plan to eat. Plan to hide plastic eggs and decorate hard-boiled eggs for eating only. For a fun, family Easter, follow these simple food safety guidelines when handling eggs.

Easter brings opportunities for families to enjoy egg decorating and participating in old-fashioned Easter egg hunts. Do not hide the same eggs you plan to eat. Plan to hide plastic eggs and decorate hard-boiled eggs for eating only. For a fun, family Easter, follow these simple food safety guidelines when handling eggs.

 Always use eggs that have been kept cool. Purchase eggs from a refrigerated section, not kept at room temperature in the aisle. Eggs should be held at 45 degrees F or below in the original carton until it is time to cook them. Store eggs in the main part of the refrigerator, not in the door.

 Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after food preparation, especially when you handle raw animal products. To prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen, always wash surfaces and cooking equipment before and after food preparation.

 Always cook eggs and egg dishes thoroughly. Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm, or reach at least 160 degrees F. Cheesecakes, lasagna and other egg dishes also need to reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F. Although tempting, refrain from tasting a mix that contains raw eggs before it is cooked properly.

 Older eggs peel easier so purchase eggs for dyeing at least one week ahead of the time you plan to use them. Use only food-grade dyes for decorating. You may display decorated eggs; however, store them in the refrigerator when they are no longer in use, for no longer than one week. Don’t eat cracked eggs or eggs that have been out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.

 To boil the perfect Easter egg, place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan. Add water to 1 inch above the eggs. For better dye coverage, add one tablespoon of vinegar. Cover the pan and quickly bring the water to a boil. (Boiling for a long period of time causes the yolks to have a greenish tint.) Remove from heat and let the eggs remain in the covered pan for 15 minutes. Immediately run cold water over the eggs. Refrigerate immediately.

 When handled properly, eggs are a safe and nutritious food for your family.

For more information, contact Saralee Bury Jamieson, University of Missouri Extension human development specialist at jamiesons@missouri.edu or your local MU Extension office at (816) 252-5051, 1106 W. Main St., in Blue Springs, or visit extension.missouri.edu.