Can You Eat Dyed Easter Eggs?

A food safety expert explains why eating dyed eggs can be a recipe for disaster.

By Korin Miller, Prevention
  • A food safety expert and registered dietitian explain why it’s usually not safe to eat dyed Easter eggs.
  • The risk has less to do with the dye itself (as long as it’s food-safe), and more to do with the amount of time the eggs have been left out at room temperature.
Dyeing eggs is an Easter tradition, and the process is simple. You buy an egg-dyeing kit, come up with some creative looks, and then display your beautiful creations.

But there’s a big question that often comes up in the aftermath: Can you eat dyed Easter eggs? After all, they’re food and they’re available. But... on the flip side, you’ve just put dye all over them. So what’s the deal?

Can you eat dyed Easter eggs?

In most cases, you’re not supposed eat dyed Easter eggs, and it’s probably not for the reason you’d think. When most people dye Easter eggs, they leave the eggs sitting out for long periods of time. That includes the time before the eggs are dyed, and then showing them off after they’re decorated.

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7 Signs You Have Food Poisoning

Unfortunately, all that time out of the fridge is just asking for a foodborne illness. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (USDA) points out that fresh eggs can contain salmonella, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. That’s even the case if the eggs have clean, uncracked shells. Salmonella causes about about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so this isn’t rare.

Most people who are infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps between 12 and 72 hours after they’re infected, and the illness usually lasts four to seven days. In most cases, people recover without treatment but in some situations, the diarrhea is so bad that people need to be hospitalized, the CDC says. In those cases, the infection can even spread from a person’s intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites, where it can be deadly unless it’s treated in time. Basically, this is not an illness you want to mess around with.

You can eat dyed Easter eggs under very specific circumstances, though

If your eggs have been sitting out for a long period of time, you definitely want to toss them. “You should discard any hard-boiled eggs that have been left at room temperature for longer than two hours,” says food safety expert Darin Detwiler, director of the Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industries program at Northeastern University. “If your dyeing process takes a long time or if you hide them and it takes a while before and during an egg hunt, please keep this in mind.”

But, if you happen to dye your eggs and they go back in the fridge in this two-hour window, you should be okay to eat them, Detwiler says. The USDA also says that cold egg dishes should be kept on ice if they’re out for longer than two hours, so that’s also an option.

As for the dye itself, you’re probably okay to eat eggs that have been dyed provided you follow the other food safety rules, says Julie Upton, RD, cofounder of the nutrition website Appetite for Health. “As long as you use a food-safe dye, the dye should not be an issue,” she says.

Bottom line: If you’re not sure if your eggs are okay or if you lost track of how long they’ve been sitting out, it’s better to err on the safe side and throw them out.
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U.S. Daily News: Can You Eat Dyed Easter Eggs?
Can You Eat Dyed Easter Eggs?
U.S. Daily News
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