Eggs are a nutritious and delicious household food all over the world. But although they are an affordable and healthy food for many, the question remains: can you eat expired eggs?
If you’ve left a carton in the fridge or on your counter for a few weeks, you may be wondering whether or not your eggs have gone bad. It’s true that keeping them in the fridge helps extend their shelf life, but how do you know if your eggs are past their shelf life?
There are several ways to tell if your eggs are past their expiration date. Here are some of the telltale signs:
- Bad smell. If you find that your eggs smell like sulfuric acid, avoid eating them.
- Check the expiration date. Anything after a month should probably be thrown away.
- Look carefully at your egg. If it’s cracked, slimy, or has a powdery residue, it has a lot of bacteria and you shouldn’t eat it.
- Shake your egg. If it seems like there is a lot of liquid sloshing around, your egg may not be the freshest. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s broken
After all, the only really sure way to know if you can safely eat expired eggs is to open one and see if it’s spoiled. Of course, if it ends up going bad, you shouldn’t eat it. Salmonella and other bacteria can cause foodborne illness with some serious consequences.
But because the packing dates and storage methods surrounding eggs are so ambiguous, eggs that are technically “expired” may not actually be rotten and contaminated with bacteria.
How long do eggs last?
Eggs can last between 3-5 weeks in the fridge and have a longer shelf life than other perishable proteins such as milk or meat. Still, you don’t always know how long your eggs have been on the supermarket shelf and how long they’ve stayed in them.
A tip for extending the freshness of your eggs
- Put them in the fridge when you get home – warmer temperatures can spoil them faster.
- Check the dates – some labels may have a “best before” date, which is a looser proposition, while others have a “use by” date. You can also look for a date on the package, which will let you know how much time you have left.
3. If you are not sure of the date, even if the eggs are not spoiled, cook them to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which will help you avoid contracting a foodborne illness.
4. Don’t wash your eggs. Many people think that washing eggs can help remove bacteria, but it actually does the opposite—once an egg is washed, it’s more likely to transfer bacteria from the outside of the shell to the inside.
5. Do a water test. Fill a bowl with cold water and place the egg inside – if it sinks, your egg is safe. If it floats, it may be out of time.
6. Do the test for candles with eggs. Using a dark room and a small, concentrated light source, you can do this test. Hold the light source next to the egg and tilt it from left to right, which will reveal the contents of the egg. If you see a large air pocket, it may be spoiled.
What to do if you have eaten an expired egg
You may notice the signs of an egg-based foodborne illness in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, and cramps. A healthy person should be fine in a few days, but the very young, the very old, and those with weakened immune systems should seek medical attention.
If you have eaten eggs with mold on them, you may develop a rash, runny nose, itchy skin, or wheezing. Be sure to hydrate with water, ginger beer, and sports drinks that can help replenish your electrolytes.
Who should avoid expired eggs?
Anyone with a weakened immune system, younger children and the elderly are at higher risk of contracting salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. If you are at higher risk, consider buying pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs are heated in hot water, which kills bacteria on the outside of the shell without cooking the egg inside. These eggs are also safer to use in recipes that call for raw eggs, such as hollandaise sauce or Caesar dressing.
At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut, and if something has a taste or smell, it’s best to throw the carton away. But one of the reasons we love eggs is that they last a long time, so if they’ve been in there for a few weeks, don’t worry!