Shortly before Easter, the Austrian supermarkets’ range of dyed Easter eggs and products for do-it-yourself dyeing was reviewed. While on the already cooked and dyed eggs, usually only harmless colours are found, the situation with products for self-dyeing is not very pleasing: 29 of 54, i.e. more than half of the dyes contain substances that are problematic for health, such as azo dyes.
“Substances in the paints that are hazardous to health do not belong in Easter nests and certainly not in children’s hands. To produce and sell these products is unnecessary and irresponsible,” says Lisa Panhuber, consumer expert at Greenpeace Austria, about the test results.
The criticized egg colours contain substances suspected of causing skin irritation, co-inducing asthma and promoting ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Especially when colouring with children, the colours often get on the skin. The colours can also get onto the egg through small cracks in the shell and are then consumed. Problematic products from well-known brands such as Fixcolor and Heitmann are available in most supermarkets.
Consumers are not informed about the possible dangers of egg colouring. Unlike food dyed with azo dyes, these must not carry a warning label. Natural colours or colours from nature, such as onion peel or turmeric, are recommended for colouring eggs at home. The best choice for Easter is eggs of organic quality.
While, due to the predominantly closed gastronomy in Austria since the summer of 2020, many millions of eggs from barn farming are too much on the domestic market; at the same time, large quantities of eggs from cage farming, which is banned in Austria, are processed in domestic food. “It cannot be that we comply with the strictest husbandry regulations in the area of animal- and environmentally friendly egg production throughout the EU, but large quantities of egg products from cage husbandry banned in Austria are still found in pasta and cakes,” warns Franz Karlhuber, chairman of ZAG – Zentrale Arbeitsgemeinschaft der österreichischen Geflügelwirtschaft.
If consumers buy eggs in stores, they can find out on which farm the egg was laid and how the hens are kept by entering the label on the egg in the egg database.