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Eating Easter Eggs Found Later Not Recommended

girl pulling back plant leaves to find easter eggs hiden.
The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours.


Like me, you may have fond memories of Easter egg hunts with siblings and cousins. Hiding and hunting over and over for hours, sometimes days. We didn’t have the plastic eggs either; ours were the hard boiled eggs we painstakingly dyed.

Looking back at that wonderful memory, it’s a miracle we didn’t get a food borne illness. Like many others, maybe even you, we would eat the eggs we found. Never mind that they had been out past the danger zone time and temperature window. I would never do this now, because I know the potential for a food borne illness.

If you plan on eating the Easter eggs you decorate, avoid cracking the egg shells. Cracks in the shells can allow bacteria to enter and contaminate the egg inside. Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets, and other bacteria sources; and keep hard-cooked eggs chilled in the refrigerator until just before the hunt. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours. Then be sure to refrigerate the "found" eggs right away, until you are ready to eat them. Eggs found hours, or days, later should be thrown out, not eaten!

Due to the volume of eggs sold, some retailers stack eggs in crates near the refrigerated egg. Skip those and reach for those in the cooler. Always open the container and look at the eggs. Choose those with clean, un-cracked shells. Remember, a crack in the shell can allow bacteria to enter the egg.

If you find eggs on sale this week, purchase extra and store them for later use. Observe the "Sell-By" or "EXP" (expiration) date on the carton. Raw shell eggs in the carton can stay in your refrigerator for three to five weeks from the purchase date. Although the "Sell-By" date might pass during that time, the eggs are still safe to use, although you may notice a reduction in quality.

Purchase your eggs last and take them straight home and refrigerate right away. Check to be sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below. Discard the egg holder that comes with your refrigerator and leave the eggs in the carton, which protects them. Keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door.

When working with eggs, always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs.

To avoid cross-contamination, you should wash anything that comes in contact with the eggs with hot water and soap.

Don't keep raw or cooked eggs out of the refrigerator more than two hours. Cooked egg dishes such as deviled eggs or egg salad should be used within 3 to 4 days, or discarded.

Eggs are loaded with good nutrition. One egg has 13 essential nutrients in varying amounts, including high-quality protein, choline, folate, iron and zinc, and all for only 70 calories. Don’t just use them for Easter; take advantage of their nutritional goodness. Make deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, vegetable omelets, or any number of recipes utilizing eggs.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaHaleyHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

A perfect hard boiled egg will be firm and without the green ring you sometimes see. This great recipe will make your perfect every time.  

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cups water
  • 8 eggs



Combine the salt, vinegar, and water in a large pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Gently add the eggs one at a time, being careful not to crack them. Reduce the heat to a gentle boil, and cook for 14 minutes. Once the eggs have cooked, remove them from the hot water, and place in a container of ice water or cold, running water. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Peel and store in the refrigerator in a covered container up to 1 week.

Tried and True Tip: While you don’t taste the vinegar and salt used during cooking, it pulls the skin from the egg shell so they peel easily without tearing.