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Straw or bellows: tools for blowing out eggs protect against food-borne infections

05/2024, 22.03.2024

Small children should not handle raw eggs at all

Decorated with paintings or colourful stickers, blown-out eggs are a popular Easter decoration. However, the eggs should preferably not be blown out with the mouth, but with a straw or other aid. This reduces the risk of infection with Salmonella or other diarrhoeal pathogens. "Caution is advisable, especially with young children, because their immune systems are not yet fully developed against the relevant pathogens," says Professor Andreas Hensel, President of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).

In eggs, infectious agents such as Salmonella or Campylobacter are mainly found on the outside of the shell; in rare cases, Salmonella can also be found inside the egg. The pathogens can enter the body when handling raw eggs, especially when blowing them out with the mouth. Depending on the dose ingested and the individual's sensitivity, they can cause diarrhoea, which can sometimes be severe. Salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis are among the most common infectious diseases in Germany, although other sources of infection besides eggs, such as fresh chicken meat, can also be the cause. In general, it should be noted that only a small proportion of infections are actually reported and thus recorded because many of those affected cure the symptoms at home without consulting a doctor.

Due to the risk of infection, the BfR recommends that only visually clean and fresh eggs should be blown out. Eggs have a prescribed "best before" date of 28 days after laying, so the remaining time of this period should still be as long as possible. The eggs should also be washed with lukewarm water and a little washing-up liquid. The tools used to pierce the eggs should also be clean - and thoroughly cleaned again after use.

When it comes to the actual blowing out, consumers are better off using aids. These can be thin straws, for example. Small bellows – pumps connected to a tube - are also available in shops that can be used to blow the yolk and egg white out of the shell. Egg residues that remain on the shell should be removed with water and washing-up liquid.

When painting and decorating the eggs, it is important to comply with basic hygiene rules, such as thoroughly cleaning dirty surfaces or washing hands with soap and water after crafting. The blown-out raw egg can be used as an egg mixture for baking or as an egg dish. Make sure that it is thoroughly heated before eating.  

It is also possible to buy already blown-out eggs, including XXL goose eggs. Other alternatives are eggs made from other materials, such as wood, polystyrene or plastic - or simply the classic hard-boiled egg.

Further information on foodborne infections

Frequently asked questions about easter eggs

Brochure: Protection against foodborne infections in private households




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