In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How long past expiration date are eggs good?” and will discuss how to keep eggs fresh for a longer time.
How long past the expiration date are eggs good?
Eggs are good for 3-5 weeks if they are washed and refrigerated past the expiration date.
How long are eggs good for?
Fresh in-shell eggs may be kept in the refrigerator for three to five weeks after washing and storing, according to the USDA. The Sell-By date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are perfectly safe to use. Eggs have a longer shelf life than most other perishable proteins. Most milk and meats can only be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a maximum of one week after they’ve been opened.
In the early part of the 20th century when eggs were a seasonal item, surplus eggs were stored at 30°F (-1°C), which allowed them to be kept for up to 10 months. When eggs started to be produced year-round, this practice was gradually eliminated. In the United States, shell eggs were commonly refrigerated at 55 to 66°F (12.6 to 15.6°C) during pre- and post-processing and in retail storage and displays (1). This is an indication of how long eggs can be safely consumed when properly stored.
Still, it might be difficult to tell how long eggs have been on the shelf and how long they’ll last after you get them home from the supermarket. Date labels placed on egg cartons are useful in this situation. Date labels help you decide how long your eggs are safe to eat and how long they may be stored in the fridge. If you buy eggs from a grocery store, you’ll likely see a label with the date they were processed and packaged or the expiry date, depending on the supplier and local rules.
Date labels on egg cartons in the United States include the following:
Best-by. If you consume the eggs before this date, specified by the manufacturer, they will be at their best quality and taste. After this date, eggs may still be sold and eaten as long as they don’t exhibit any indications of deterioration.
Sell-by. This date must be within 30 days of the date of the eggs’ original packaging. The eggs may be 4 weeks old by the time they reach the sell-by date.
Due date: The date the eggs were prepared and packaged into the carton is listed here. Using a three-digit number from 1 to 365, it’s shown. If you use this system, the first day of the year is 001, the second day is 002, and so on.
3–5 weeks after the pack date—the day they were picked, washed, and kept in refrigeration—eggs normally remain fresh.
Egg quality deterioration, and albumen quality deterioration in particular, can be slowed down significantly by maintaining egg temperature near the freezing point. Near-freezing temperatures can preserve eggs for several months. The beneficial effect of low temperatures on albumen quality preservation has been known for a long time. Studies demonstrated that eggs held at an average temperature of 61°F (16°C) for 16 days had a Haugh unit value of 49 (high Haugh units indicate good albumen quality), while eggs stored at an average temperature of 50°F (10°C) for the same period had a Haugh unit value of 69 (1).
Your eggs may begin to lose their freshness after five weeks. A change in texture or taste is possible, as is the loss of color and flavor. Even if you refrigerate your eggs, their quality will continue to deteriorate over time. But if they stay free of bacteria or mold infection, they may be safe to consume for days or even weeks more.
Expired eggs pose a health hazard
Salmonella, a species of bacterium that lives in and affects animals’ and humans’ digestive systems, is well-known for its propensity to proliferate in egg yolks. Fever, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea are all symptoms of foodborne illness caused by salmonella bacterium. Globally, the annual incidence of foodborne salmonellosis is conservatively estimated at 80.3 million cases, but other estimates range from 200 million to 1.3 billion cases (2).
When you purchase eggs, Salmonella may be lurking within or outside of them. There are two pathways for eggs to become internally contaminated with Salmonella. Direct contamination occurs during the formation of an egg in the reproductive tract of hens (including the ovary and oviduct); whereas, indirect contamination occurs after an egg has been laid and Salmonella contaminating the outside of the egg penetrates through the shell membrane. These pathways for contamination can be influenced by the egg production process, storage, handling and food preparation (2). While eggs are in the refrigerator, the bacteria might continue to grow.
This implies that even if you store fresh eggs properly, there is a possibility that you might get ill from Salmonella. To control Salmonella enteritidis, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends cooking popular egg dishes until fully coagulated. At least 160°F (71°C) is the ideal cooking temperature for eggs, which may prevent the spread of foodborne diseases (1).
What to look for in rotten eggs?
Even though the expiration date on an egg carton has passed, it does not always indicate the egg is bad. It’s still possible to tell if eggs have gone bad by checking the expiry date. Unless they’ve gone rotten, eggs that are still within a few days or weeks of their expiry date and have been stored properly in the refrigerator haven’t gone bad.
Before determining whether or not to consume the eggs, you may want to check the expiry date on the carton. If you’re unsure whether or not your eggs have gone bad, try one of these easy tests:
· Observe how they smell. When an egg is rotten, it will most certainly emit a terrible smell, whether it is cooked or uncooked. A rotting egg’s aroma will be more pronounced when it’s cracked open than if the shell is still intact.
· They need a thorough examination from top to bottom. There should be no cracks or slime on the shell, any symptoms of mildew, or apparent discoloration in the yolk and white of an egg that is safe to eat.
· Follow your intuition. “When in doubt, toss it,” says the adage. It’s advisable not to consume eggs that have begun to deteriorate if you have a hunch about it.
- Use the candling method. Manual scanning techniques involve conveying the eggs over a light source where the defects become visible and the defective eggs are segregated. Air cell is formed between the albumen membrane and shell inner membrane at the blunt end of an egg. Air cell enlarges continuously during storage, as water evaporates through the pores on the eggshell and thus air cell height can reflect egg freshness. Thus, air cell height can be observed with a graduated transparent plastic sheet when eggs are illuminated by light. An air cell larger than 9.5 mm is an indication of a bad quality egg (3).
Tips for preserving the freshness of eggs
Even though eggs cannot be stored indefinitely, good cleaning and storage may extend their shelf life significantly. Bacteria may be prevented from growing by using these strategies as well. Studies show that many food poisoning occurs due to poor handling and insufficient cleaning of cooking spaces, utensils and because of cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked food items (2). The following are a few factors to keep in mind when it comes to egg storage:
· Find out whether they have been cleaned first
Many people keep their eggs in the refrigerator, but farm-fresh eggs may also be kept on the counter if you’ve heard that before. If the eggs are unwashed and maintained at a constant room temperature, they may be stored on the counter for a short amount of time.
When an egg has been washed, germs like Salmonella are more likely to be transferred from the exterior of the shell to the interior of the egg. As a result, only unwashed eggs are safe to keep on the counter. Higher temperatures and temperature changes may lead to eggs spoiling and losing quality more quickly than eggs stored in the refrigerator.
· Make sure your eggs are kept in the fridge.
Keeping eggs in a refrigerator around 40°F (4–5°C) is the best method to keep them fresh. The contents of the egg will expand and harm the shell if it is frozen, according to experts. Salmonella may be reduced greatly by keeping eggs at a lower temperature and refrigerating them.
Eggs that have not been refrigerated should be avoided at all costs, according to health bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The door of the fridge isn’t ideal for storing eggs, so if you can, put them on a shelf inside. Because it’s in direct contact with the outside world most of the time, the door tends to become the hottest.
During the time your eggs are being stored in the refrigerator, keep them away from raw meat to prevent the spread of germs. Salmonella and other germs may be kept out of eggs by covering them with plant-based biofilms, which scientists are now investigating.
Finally, the importance of successfully cleaning a kitchen to remove Salmonella contamination was also explored by studies, which showed that using detergent based cleaning without a rinse step was insufficient in achieving a hygienic surface within a model kitchen. The use of hypochlorite at 5000 ppm was significantly superior to the detergent based cleaning (2).
Other FAQs about Eggs that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How long past expiration date are eggs good?” and discussed how to keep eggs fresh for a longer time.
- Zeidler, G. 2002. Shell Egg Quality and Preservation. In: Bell, D.D., Weaver, W.D. (eds) Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production. Springer, Boston, MA.
- Whiley, Harriet, and Kirstin Ross. Salmonella and eggs: from production to plate. Int j environ res public health, 2015, 12, 2543-2556.
- Qi, L., Zhao, Mc., Li, Z. et al. Non-destructive testing technology for raw eggs freshness: a review. SN Appl. Sci., 2020, 2, 1113.