As we head into the Easter holidays many countries throughout the world are either well into the vaccination program or heading into the 3rd wave of COVID-19 infections. Food safety during Easter should not be forgotten during this critical period.
Whether you’re celebrating your Seder meal with brisket or Easter dinner with ham or lamb, keep food safety in mind. Eggs also are popular for traditional Passover and Easter celebrations and require proper food safe handling.
It is important to take precautions with eggs and other perishable foods to avoid food-borne illness.
Here are our tips for this Easter:
- Consider using colorful plastic Easter eggs with treats or toys inside for your Easter egg hunt.
- Be sure and inspect the eggs before purchasing them, making sure they are not dirty or cracked.
- Dangerous bacteria may enter a cracked egg.
- When cooking, always start with clean hands.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after you handle food.
- Remember to avoid cross-contamination by keeping kitchen surfaces and equipment clean and using separate knives and cutting boards for different foods.
- Use only food-safe dyes on Easter eggs.
- After decorating the eggs, put them in the refrigerator right away.
- Store eggs in their original cartons in the refrigerator rather than the refrigerator door.
- Abide by the “best by” date on the egg carton.
- It is best to throw out old eggs than to risk sickness.
- When you’re decorating, cooking, or hiding Easter eggs, extra care is needed as eggs are handled a great deal more than usual around Easter.
- If you’re having an Easter egg hunt, consider hiding places carefully.
- Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects, or lawn chemicals.
- Make sure you find all the eggs you’ve hidden and then refrigerate them.
- Discard cracked eggs.
- Eggs should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Keep hard-cooked eggs in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- All cooked egg dishes should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 70° C (158 °F) as measured by a food thermometer.
Food Safety for cooked meals
- Be sure to allow plenty of time to thaw a frozen brisket.
- Thawing in the refrigerator can take about 24 hours for a trimmed, first-cut brisket. A whole brisket weighing about 5 kg (10 lbs) can take several days.
- Bake the brisket, fat side up in a baking dish, in an oven set no lower than 180°C (356° F).
- The brisket is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 65°C (149°F) and is allowed to rest at that temperature for three minutes.
- Ham is a popular meat for the Easter table. Ham is either ready-to-eat or requires cooking before eating.
- Fresh, uncooked hams must be cooked to reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 70°C (158°F).
- Ready-to-eat hams are cooked at the plant and can be safely eaten right out of the package and can be served cold or heated to serve warm.
- Lamb is another popular dish.
- For food safety, a leg of lamb and other cuts should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 65°C (149°F).