How Long Are Eggs Good After the Expiration Date?

Understanding Expiration Dates on Egg Cartons

Egg cartons typically have a “sell by” or “expiration” date printed on them, which can be confusing to interpret. It’s important to understand that this date is not a safety date, but rather a guideline for how long the store can display the eggs for sale. In general, eggs can be safely consumed for several weeks beyond the expiration date, as long as they have been properly stored and do not show any signs of spoilage. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and use your senses (sight, smell, and sometimes touch) to determine if an egg is still fresh.

Factors that Affect Egg Shelf Life

Several factors can impact how long eggs will last, including the temperature at which they are stored and their exposure to air. Eggs should be kept at a consistent temperature of 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. When eggs are exposed to air, the protective coating on the shell can break down, making them more vulnerable to contamination. Other factors that can affect egg shelf life include the age of the egg, the breed of the chicken that laid it, and the conditions in which the chicken was raised. In general, eggs from pasture-raised chickens tend to have a shorter shelf life than those from factory farms, as they are not washed or refrigerated immediately after being laid.

Signs of Spoiled Eggs

Consuming spoiled eggs can lead to foodborne illness, so it’s important to know how to recognize when an egg has gone bad. The most obvious sign of a spoiled egg is a foul odor, which is caused by the breakdown of proteins in the egg. Other signs of spoilage include a slimy or cloudy texture, a green or grayish yolk, or a pungent taste. If you crack an egg and notice any of these signs, do not consume it. Instead, dispose of it immediately and thoroughly wash your hands and any surfaces that came into contact with the egg.

How to Properly Store Eggs

Proper storage is key to extending the shelf life of eggs. Eggs should be kept in their original carton and stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the back of the bottom shelf. It’s important to avoid storing eggs in the door of the refrigerator, as the temperature can fluctuate too much when the door is opened and closed. Additionally, eggs should not be washed until just before they are used, as washing can remove the protective coating on the shell. If you have excess eggs that you won’t be able to use before they expire, you can also freeze them for up to six months. Be sure to crack them open and whisk them together before freezing to prevent the yolks from becoming gelatinous.

Cooking with Expired Eggs: Risks and Precautions

While it is generally safe to consume eggs that are past their expiration date, it is not recommended to use them in certain dishes that require them to be fully cooked, such as scrambled eggs or omelets. In these cases, it is best to use fresh eggs to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. However, if you plan to use expired eggs in dishes that will be fully cooked, such as cakes or breads, there are some precautions you can take. First, be sure to thoroughly cook the eggs until they are no longer runny. You can also use a food thermometer to ensure that the eggs reach an internal temperature of at least 160°F. Additionally, you should inspect the eggs carefully before using them, and discard any that show signs of spoilage.

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