Skip to content

Putting This in Your Easter Basket Can Cause Food Poisoning, Experts Warn

Yes, it seems adorable—but new CDC data show how dangerous this Easter gift can be for your child.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan
Easter, Easter basket, bunny

If you're like a lot of parents, you would do anything to make this Easter special for your kids (especially after last Easter's lockdown). Just beware: As you're prepping for your family's celebration, some experts are warning parents to avoid putting one particular gift in your child's Easter basket. Sure, it might bring squeals of delight—but it could also bring something you for sure don't want: food poisoning.

Among the candy and trinkets, the one thing you shouldn't put in your child's Easter basket is a live animal like a chick, duckling, or bunny. FoodSafetyNews.com reports that "there are serious humane and public health reasons" not to do this—chief among them the fact that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,722 cases of Salmonella were reported across the United States in 2020. Twenty-four percent of those occurred in children five years old or younger.

RELATED: 100 Easiest Recipes You Can Make

If you thought Salmonella primarily comes from eating or handling undercooked foods, take note: an overwhelming majority of these Salmonella cases actually had nothing to do with kitchen food handling safety. Scientific evidence from 17 CDC investigations last year shows that "backyard poultry was the likely source of these outbreaks." Sixty-six percent of the infected individuals who were interviewed reported contact with chicks and ducklings that they'd gotten from websites, agricultural stores, and hatcheries, among other sources. One death occurred, while 33% of the individuals who participated in the CDC's studies reported having been hospitalized with their Salmonella illness.

Each U.S. state had at lease one occurrence, according to a CDC map that illustrates state-by-state rates of infection. (Keep in mind this is not even counting cases of E. coli and other causes of food poisoning.)

So if the animal's wellbeing is not enough reason for you to skip the special delivery, then for your child's safety, be smart. And if the community Easter egg hunt has animals present, the CDC offers a lot of great tips to keep your own duckies safe. They include:

  • supervising children while they're handling live animals
  • don't allow kissing, nuzzling, or touching the face
  • be sure they wash their hands with soap and water immediately after touching or handling
  • remove their shoes outside the house as soon as you return home.

If you're looking out for your kiddos, don't miss this week's news on how removing sugary drinks from their diet can lead to better brain health.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants, groceries, and more. Read more