Nobody wants to eat an egg that has gone bad. If you’ve ever experienced symptoms of a Salmonella infection (diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, and headache) it’s understandable you would be hesitant to eat an expired egg.
The good news is an expired egg doesn’t necessary mean a bad egg. Eggs are often still good to eat for a few weeks after the sell by date. Many people assume the ‘sell by’ date is an expiration date, but that’s not the case. The sell by date just means that’s the last date the eggs should be sold, and is an indicator of freshness, but it doesn’t mean they’re bad.
A better way to gauge an egg’s safety is to look at the ‘Julian date’ on the carton. The Julian date is a three-digit number underneath the sell by date and corresponds to the day of the year the eggs were packaged. For example, if the Julian date is 211 that means that the eggs were packaged on the 211th day of the year, with January 1st being day 1 and December 31st as day 365 (apart from leap year of course!). You can store fresh shell eggs in their carton in the refrigerator for up to five weeks after the Julian date.
Another good way to determine if the egg is safe to eat is to use the float test. Fill a glass or bowl with cold water and put the egg inside. If it sinks to the bottom and lays flat on its side that’s a sign it’s a very fresh egg. If the egg stands on one end at the bottom of the bowl it means the egg is a few weeks old but still OK to eat. However, if the egg floats to the surface it’s no longer safe to eat and should be discarded.
What Happens if I Eat a Bad Egg?
If you’ve eaten an egg that has gone bad, you could develop Salmonellosis, the illness caused by an infection from the salmonella bacteria. You would notice the symptoms start within 12 to 72 hours of eating the bad egg. The symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps can last four to seven days and in most cases people recover without treatment. Severe cases are more likely to occur in infants, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
What Are Other Signs an Egg Has Gone Bad?
A few other things that indicate an egg is no longer safe to eat are when:
- The egg white is more pink or green. That’s an indication the egg is contaminated with pseudomonas bacteria and should NOT be eaten.
- The egg has black or green spots on the inside. Do NOT eat these eggs, it’s a sign of fungal contamination.
How Should I Store Eggs?
You should always refrigerate eggs at 45℉ (7℃) or below. It’s best to keep them in their original carton so they don’t dry out, and keep them away from strong smelling foods such as onions and garlic, as this can affect the egg’s flavor.
You might wonder if it’s alright to eat an egg that has a blood spot in the yolk. A blood spot occurs when a blood vessel on the yolk sac ruptures during egg formation. These pose no risk and are safe to eat.
If you keep these things in mind when you purchase and store eggs, you’ll be able to enjoy your eggs and not worry about getting sick from eating them.