Eggs are a nutritious and tasty household staple all over the world. But although they’re an affordable and wholesome meal for many, the question remains: can you eat expired eggs?
If you’re left a carton in the fridge or out on your counter for a few weeks, you might be wondering if your eggs have gone bad or not. It’s true that keeping them in the fridge helps prolong the “best by” date, but just how do you know if your eggs are expired?
There are a few ways to tell if your eggs are expired. Here are the some of the tell-tale signs:
- A bad smell. If you find a sulphuric smell coming off your eggs, avoid eating them.
- Look at the expiration date. Anything after a month should probably be tossed.
- Take a close look at your egg. If it’s cracked, slimy, or has powdery residue, bacteria is high and you shouldn’t eat it.
- Shake your egg. If it sounds like a lot of liquid is sloshing around, your egg may not be the freshest. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s spoiled
Ultimately, the only truly foolproof way to tell if you can safely eat expired eggs is by cracking one open and checking if it’s spoiled. Of course, if it does end up being spoiled, you should not eat it. Salmonella and other bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses with some serious effects.
But since the packaging dates and storage methods surrounding eggs are so ambiguous, eggs that are technically “expired” might not actually be rotten and bacteria-contaminated.
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 like milk or meats. Still, you don’t always know how long your eggs have been sitting on a shelf at the supermarket and how much longer they have in them.
Tip for extending your egg freshness
- Put them in the fridge when you get home — higher temperatures can cause them to spoil quicker.
- Check the dates — some labels may have a “best by” date which is more of a loose suggestion, whereas others have an “expiration” date. You can also look for a pack date, which will let you know how much time you have left.
3. If you’re unsure of the date, even if the eggs aren’t spoiled, cook them at 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 in fact, it does the opposite — once an egg has been washed it’s more likely to transfer bacteria from the shell’s outside to the inside.
5. Do the 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 past its time.
6. Do the egg candling test. Using a dark room and a small, concentrated source of light, you can do this test. Hold your light source up to the egg and tilt it from left to right, which will reveal the egg’s contents. If you see a large air pocket, it may be spoiled.
What to do if you ate an expired egg
You may see the signs of an egg-based food illness in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headaches, and cramps. In a healthy person’s case, you should be fine in a few days, but the much younger, much older, and those with weakened immune systems should seek medical assistance.
If you ate eggs with mold on them, you may get a rash, a runny nose, itchy skin, or wheezing. Be sure to hydrate with water, ginger ale, and sports drinks that can help replenish your electrolytes.
Who should avoid expired eggs?
Anyone who is immune-compromised, younger children, and seniors are all at a higher risk of contracting Salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. If you’re at a higher risk, consider buying pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs are heated in warm 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 ask for raw eggs, like hollandaise sauce or caesar dressing.
Ultimately, you should go with your gut and if something tastes or smells off, 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 couple of weeks, don’t worry!