Blowing and painting Easter eggs - but properly, please!

Every child knows how eggs are blown and painted. What is less well known is that by making colourful Easter eggs, it is possible to contract a salmonella infection. The germs can notably sit on the egg shell. "When blowing eggs, it is possible that salmonella are ingested and then cause diarrhoea", explains Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). The BfR points out that when handling raw eggs, special care must be taken to observe the rules of hygiene.

Even though the number of reported infections with salmonella has been on the decrease for a few years, roughly 25,000 cases of salmonella infections were reported in the year 2011. Since children are especially at risk, they should, if possible, avoid contact with raw eggs altogether. A safe alternative at Easter time is painting boiled eggs or eggs made from materials such as wood or plastic.

Those who don’t want to do without blowing Easter eggs should take the following hygienic precautions to avoid a salmonella infection:

  • Only blow out fresh and clean eggs. You can wash the eggs with lukewarm water and a little detergent.
  • The pointed implements used to puncture the eggs (for example nails or roulade pins) should be clean and thoroughly washed after use.
  • Where possible, the eggs should be blown using aids in order to avoid direct contact with the mouth. For example, thin straws and disposable syringes with large barrels are suitable to blow eggs.
  • Before the blown eggs are painted, they should be cleaned on the inside and outside using lukewarm water and some washing-up liquid in order to remove egg residue.
  • Splashed yolk and egg white should be removed with kitchen towels immediately; the work surface must then be thoroughly cleaned.
  • Once the paint job has been done, carefully wash hands with warm water and soap.

If the egg yolk and egg white are to be used still, they must be stored in closed containers to avoid transmission of germs. As a general rule, raw eggs should be processed as soon as possible and stored at a maximum temperature of 7 degrees until then.

For dishes that are not heated before they are eaten, raw eggs should not be used. These include some desserts and mayonnaise. If eggs are sufficiently heated during cooking, baking or frying, any existing germs are killed.

The BfR has summarised further information in the document “Selected Questions and Answers on Easter Eggs”.

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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