How to Tell If Eggs are Good to Eat or Not?

Have you ever wondered whether the eggs in your fridge are fresh or not? Do you know how to tell if eggs are good or not? Well, there are several methods to determine if the eggs are safe for consumption. Some of these methods are sniff test, float test, shake test, visual check, flashlight test, etc.

Let’s us find out how to tell if eggs are good or not just by some quick and easy ways. Also, we will learn how to store eggs to use them longer than usual.


1. Check the packaging

Most of us rely on the packaging to tell us if our eggs have expired or not. However, there are chances that we may be throwing away perfectly edible eggs.

The sell-by date mentioned on the carton, states the date until which the store can sell those eggs. It does not mean that the eggs are stale (1).

Refrigeration preserves quality and prevents bacterial growth, which means eggs can be safe to eat for several weeks past the sell by the date mentioned on the carton.

The Julian date was the date when the eggs were packed. All eggs graded by the USDA must mention this date on the carton. As long as the eggs are refrigerated, these eggs are safe for consumption for four to five weeks beyond the Julian date.

This date represents the consecutive days of the year, so January 1, will be printed as 001 and December 31 will be 365.

The cartons with USDA logo can not have expiration date exceeding 30 days from the day they were packed. If refrigerated, properly eggs can stay fresh way beyond the expiry date mentioned on the carton.

There are other ways to check if the eggs which are beyond their expiration date are safe to eat.

2. The sniff test

The sniff test is one of the oldest tests for checking the freshness of an egg. Sniff the egg. If the egg has gone bad, it will give a sulfur-like smell. If there is no smell, the egg is good to eat.

You can also crack the egg into a clean bowl and sniff it. If it smells bad, discard it. Clean the bowl with soapy water before you use it again.

3. The float test

The float test is one of the most popular methods to check if the egg is fresh. Gently put the egg into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, it is fresh. It if tilts upwards, it is old but still edible. If the egg floats up, it means that the egg is old and we should not consume it.

The egg floats because when the egg becomes old, the small air pocket inside it grows larger. When the air pocket it large enough, the egg will float.

The egg shells are semi-permeable which means air can get through. The older the egg, the more the air can get through, making it float.

4. The shake test

Though not as reliable as the other tests, the shake test is another way to check of the egg is bad. Just hold the egg to your ear and shake it. If you hear swishing sounds, the egg has gone bad.

The sound comes if the egg has turned old and watery. If there is no sound, this means that the egg is still fresh.

5. The visual test

Inspect the shell of the egg to see if it is cracked, slimy or powdery. Any sliminess or cracks on the shells indicate the presence of bacteria. If the egg shell is powdery, it means the presence of mold.

If the shell is intact, you can crack it open and check. If there is any pink, blue, green or black discoloration in the egg white or yolk, discard it immediately as it means there is bacterial growth in the egg.

If you feel that the egg white is thin and the yolk is flat, it means that the egg has become old. However, it does not indicate spoilage.

6. The flashlight test

This test is also known as the candling method as people used candles for this test in the past. Nowadays, however, flashlights have made this test simpler. Go into a dark room and hold a torch up to the large end of the egg.

Now tilt the egg and turn it from left to right. By doing this, you will be able to see the contents of the egg. It the air cell of the egg is small, it is fresh. If the air cell is large, the egg is old. This test requires a little bit of practice.

Tips for buying eggs

  • Buy eggs from a refrigerator and refrigerator case.
  • Open the carton to check if the shells are clean and not cracked.

Tips for storing eggs

Storing eggs well can make them last longer and prevents contamination.

  • You should always keep eggs in their carton. Many of us throw away the carton and keep eggs in the caddy that comes with the refrigerator. This is not a very wise idea as the carton protects the eggs and prevents them from absorbing other strong odors from the fridge. The packaging also has the ‘best before’ date, so storing them with it helps you keep track of how old they are.
  • You should store eggs in the main body of the fridge and not in the door as this ensures that they are stored at a consistent and cold temperature.
  • Eggs should be stored with their pointed side down. The blunt side of the egg contains an air pocket which gradually grows larger as the egg dries up during storage. When we store them blunt side up, the yolk remains centered and prevents the air pocket from rupturing and spoiling the egg.
  • Ensure that you store the leftover egg whites or yolks in air-tight containers.
  • To prevent egg yolks from drying out, cover them with a little cold water. Remove the water before using.

Recommended storage time for eggs (1)

  • Eggs: Refrigerator (35 F to 40 F)
  • Raw whole eggs (in the shell): Four to five weeks beyond the pack date
  • Raw whole eggs (slightly beaten): Up to 2 days
  • Raw egg whites: Up to 4 days
  • Raw egg yolks: Up to 2 days
  • Hard-boiled eggs (in the shell) Up to 1 week
  • Hard-boiled eggs (peeled): Use the same day

Safety tips for cooking and serving eggs

  • Serve eggs and food made with eggs immediately after cooking or store it in the refrigerator.
  • Always cook eggs on low heat to prevent toughness.
  • Don’t eat cracked eggs that have been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
  • Egg yolk and white separate when they are chilled.
  • Egg whites will beat to a better volume if they are at room temperature.

Some common questions about egg safety

1. Are eggs healthy and safe?

Yes, eggs are highly nutritious and safe. One large egg contains 6 grams of quality protein, minerals, vitamins and only 70 calories. The risk of getting any foodborne illness from eggs is very low.

Proper storage and cooking eliminate the risk of bacterial infection from eggs.

2. Why do some eggs have dark yolks, while others have light yolks? Are they safe to eat?

Both these eggs are safe and healthy. The color of the yolk depends on the type of feed that the hens eat. Hens that eat wheat-based feed produce light yolks and those that eat corn-based feed produce dark yolks.

3. Does a blood spot in egg mean it is contaminated?

No. Blood spots are usually found in the yolks of the eggs. They are formed by the rupture of the blood vessel on the yolk or a similar occurrence in the wall of the oviduct. You can remove these spots with a knife and eat these eggs safely.

4. Are the ropey strands in egg white safe for eating?

These strands, known as chalazae, are perfectly safe to eat. Chalazae help to anchor the yolk in the center of the egg. They are highly nutritious and do not indicate any contamination. In fact, they are more prominent in fresh eggs.

5. Why do my eggs smell fishy?

Sometimes Omega-3 eggs can have a fishy smell.  These hens are fed 10 to 20 percent more flaxseed which is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid.

The omega-3 fatty acid naturally has a typical smell, which is the reason why fish, which is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, also smell.

6. What are organic eggs?

Organic eggs are produced by hens that must be housed in a free-range housing system. These hens must be fed only certified organic feed, meaning it is grown without any pesticides and herbicides.


Final thoughts

Eggs are highly nutritious and provide many health benefits. Unfortunately, many of us needlessly throw good eggs just because they are past their ‘best before’ date.

The truth, however, is that we can use appropriately stored eggs even if they are past their best before date.

Just use any of the six tests mentioned above to check if the eggs are still fresh and usable. Also, make sure that you store the eggs correctly and cook them properly to avoid any infections.


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