Safe & Sanitary columnist Gina Nicholson says handle all of the Easter goodies lamb, ham and eggs with care. **Bonus recipe** See Nicholson's formula for deviled eggs.

This Easter when preparing your lamb or ham dishes or decorating Easter eggs make sure that you take extra effort to keep these foods safe.
Ham, lamb and hardboiled eggs are perishable foods that if not prepared properly can allow bacteria to grow, which can cause illness. Follow these simple steps to prepare your holiday foods safely; keep cold foods cold, hot foods hot and all foods clean.

Hardboiled eggs

The many bright colors of decorated Easter eggs bring back fond memories of childhood past. Use these tips to make your hunt an exciting and safe event.

Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water before handling the eggs. Eggs should be cooked until the yolks and whites are firm. Cool eggs quickly, either under cold running water or in an ice bath. Do not decorate, hide or eat cracked eggs. Use only food grade colorings to decorate eggs. Refrigerate eggs (41 degrees or cooler) until you are ready to hide them. Choose hiding places with care, avoiding areas where the eggs could get dirty. Refrigerate immediately after hunting eggs; discard eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Hardboiled eggs held at 41 degrees in the refrigerator can be kept up to seven days.
Lamb or ham?

Delicious lamb with its velvety texture and distinctive taste makes a great holiday dish. When purchasing lamb, look for meat that is pinkish-red with very little fat marbling and only a thin layer around the meat. Safely cook lamb to an internal temperature of 145 degrees using a cooking thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Salty, sweet ham is a popular Easter tradition. Always follow the storage and cooking directions on the ham package. Cook ham safely to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. The only way to tell if any food item has reached a safe temperature is to use a cooking thermometer.

As a holiday gift to your guests, make sure perishable foods never sit at room temperature without a hot or cold source for more than two hours. Refrigerate leftovers right away and enjoy them up to seven days after your celebration.

For more food safety information contact the OSU Food Safety Hotline at 1-800-752-2751 or email your questions to

Gina Nicholson is a food-safety manager for the Columbus Division of the Kroger Co.