COMMENTS FROM CHERYL
When preparing eggs for the Easter egg hunt or for a meal, remember that eggs and egg dishes must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. The time table goes down to one hour if the room temperature is 90 degrees or higher. This means that, if you are dying your eggs, make sure you return them to the refrigerator before two hours has passed.
The same rule goes for time hiding and hunting the eggs. If your eggs are out of refrigeration for more than two hours, throw them away. If raw eggs, hard boiled eggs or egg dishes are left at room temperature for more than two hours bacteria has had an opportunity to grow and you may come down with a foodborne illness.
Always start with clean, uncracked egg shells. Buy eggs before the “Sell-By” or “EXP” (expiration) date on the carton. Take eggs straight home from the grocery store and refrigerate them right away. Check to be sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below. Don’t take eggs out of the carton to put them in the refrigerator—the carton protects them. Keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator not on the door.
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.
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling raw eggs. To avoid cross-contamination, you should also wash forks, knives, spoons and all counters and other surfaces that touch the eggs with hot water and soap.
Here are some Easter Egg Safety Tips: • Use only food grade dye. • Don’t dye cracked eggs. When the shell is cracked, bacteria can enter and contaminate the product.
• Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other bacteria sources.
• Keep hard- cooked eggs chilled in the refrigerator until just before the hunt.
• Remember two hours at room temperature is the maximum time for eggs to be out of refrigeration.
If you have handled your Easter Eggs correctly, you can use the hard-boiled eggs within a week for deviled eggs or other dishes. Once you use the eggs in a dish or for deviled eggs, the product needs to be used within three to four days.
If you have problems peeling hard-boiled eggs, don’t use your freshest eggs. The fresher the egg, the more difficult it is to peel after hard cooking. That’s because the air cell, found at the large end of the shell between the shell membranes, increases in size the longer the raw egg is stored.
As the contents of the egg contracts and the air cell enlarges, the shell becomes easier to peel. For this reason, older eggs make better candidates for hard cooking.
Always play it safe to avoid food-borne illness. It is no fun to make yourself or others sick.
START MOVING FOR YOUR HEALTH—Get fit, have fun, spend time with your kids, family or friends. Start a healthy habit. You can do this by joining the Walk Across Texas program sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Milam County office.
Walk Across Texas is an eight- week walking program for teams of two to eight people or school classes or individuals. Teams have a friendly competition to see who can log the most miles walking, jogging or biking. You can even dance, do aerobics or ride a stationary bike.
It takes eight weeks to build an exercise habit, so let Walk Across Texas help you start moving for your health and build and exercise habit.
Registration materials are available at the Milam County Extension Office at 100 E. 1st Street in Cameron or on the Walk Across Texas website, http:// walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu.
FOOD SAFETY CERTIFICATION CLASS—A commercial food handler certification class for 2013 is set for April 15. If you need a certification class and testing this year, sign-up now. The class will be conducted in one day at the Lee County Precinct 3 Building at 8871 US 77 in Lexington at a cost of $115. The registration fee covers the course materials, testing and instruction. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of f ices in Milam and Lee Counties are conducting the training.
Registration materials are available at both Extension offices as well as on the Milam County website, http://milam.agrilife.org/ under events.
Commercial food handlers are required to pass a certified professional food manager examination to operate their business. The course on April 15 will help you prepare for the testing as well as update you on the current guidelines relating to food safety. Food safety and sanitation, food flow and HACCP, and managing the operation are the major sections of the training.