How long do egg whites last?
In this article, we will answer the question “How long do egg whites last?”. We will also discuss what affects the shelf life of egg whites, how to properly store them and what happens if you consume spoiled egg whites.
How long do egg whites last?
Egg whites last about 2-4 days in the fridge. Freezing prolongs their shelf-life up to 12 months. The following table shows the shelf-life of eggs and related products under different storage conditions (1).
|In-shell egg, fresh||Less than 2 hours in the U.S., Japan, Australia, Sweden, or the Netherlands; 1–3 weeks in other countries||3-5 weeks||Not recommended|
|Raw egg yolks||Less than 2 hours||2-4 days||Yolks do not freeze well|
|Raw egg whites||Less than 2 hours||2-4 days||1 year for best quality|
|Hard-boiled eggs||Less than 2 hours||1 week||Not recommended|
What affects the shelf life of egg whites?
The shelf life of egg whites can be affected by the enzymes in them, particularly the proteases, which can induce protein degradation and egg spoilage by decomposing nutrients such as protein and lecithin. Higher temperatures can also hasten the process by which these enzymes become more active over time (2).
Since oxygen encourages oxidation reactions that result in the loss of useful characteristics, it can also contribute to a reduction in the shelf life of egg whites. Another factor is pH levels since extremes of acidity or alkalinity can denature proteins and shorten their shelf life (3).
Last but not least, bacterial or other microorganism contamination during handling or storage can hasten deterioration and shorten the shelf life of egg whites (1).
How to properly store egg whites?
To properly store egg whites, they should be carefully separated from egg yolks before storage to avoid cross-contamination. This part is important because egg yolks contain lipids that may suffer lipid oxidation during storage, changing taste, texture and even producing toxic compounds (4).
After separating the egg white from yolks, you can transfer the whites to a fresh, airtight container, such as a glass or plastic container, and tightly cover it. By doing this you can reduce exposure to air and moisture which can lead egg whites to spoil (4).
To prevent bacterial development and sluggish enzymatic activity, store the container in the refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C), and away from other foods with a strong smell because egg whites can absorb taste from them. You can also freeze mixing the whites, packing, sealing and storing and freezing (4,5).
How to tell If egg whites have gone bad?
To tell if egg whites have gone bad you can check the appearance and smell of them. Spoiled egg whites might appear cloudy, watery, or emit a sulphuric, or ‘rotten egg’ smell (2).
As egg whites age or when exposed to heat, acid, or mechanical stress, their protein structure can denature, leading to changes in texture (loss of viscosity and a thinner, runnier consistency in the egg whites) and transparency (cloudy or milky appearance) (2).
What happens if you consume spoiled egg whites?
Eating spoiled egg whites can be damaging to your health because there may be harmful microorganisms present. Salmonella and other microorganisms that can lead to foodborne illnesses can be found in spoiled egg whites (6).
When these bacteria are ingested, you may have symptoms like (7):
- pains in the abdomen,
In extreme circumstances, it may lead to consequences like blood infection, dehydration, or other issues. Additionally, the risk of food poisoning may be increased by the presence of enterotoxins or invasive enzymes in spoiled egg whites that are produced by bacteria (8).
To avoid any health risks from consuming contaminated or spoiled food, it is crucial to discard any spoiled egg whites.
In this article, we answered the question “How long do egg whites last?”. We will also discuss what affects the shelf life of egg whites, how to properly store them and what happens if you consume spoiled egg whites.
1. Shell Eggs from Farm to Table. USDA, 2019.
2. Guo, D.; et al. The Quality Analysis and Deterioration Mechanism of Liquid Egg White during Storage. Appl. Sci. 2022, 12, 2500.
3. Muhammed, Y.; Asik, H. Texture, rheology, storage stability, and sensory evaluation of meringue’s prepared from lipase enzyme-modified liquid egg white. J. Food Process. Preserv. 2020, 44,
4. Garden-Robinson, J. Food Freezing Basics: Freezing Dairy Products, Eggs and Other Foods. North Dakota State University Extension Service, 2017.
5. How do you handle and store eggs safely?. USDA, 2023.
6. Baron, F., et al. Egg white versus Salmonella Enteritidis! A harsh medium meets a resilient pathogen. Food Microbiol. 2016 Feb;53(Pt B):82-93.
7. What You Need to Know about Foodborne Illnesses. FDA, 2022.
8. Liu, W., et al. The specific biological characteristics of spoilage microorganisms in eggs. Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft und-Technologie, 2020, 135(1).