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How Long Are Eggs Good For After the Sell By Date & More

Posted by Sarah Moore on

 

The average American consumes almost 300 eggs a year. Whether they’re being bought to hard boil or go into a recipe, they are a staple in most every household. If you’re like me and many other consumers, you are a bit overzealous with your egg purchasing at times (cue covid shutdows and hurricane warnings) and end up with more than you can consume by the time they expire. What do you do in these instances? That little expiration date stamped on the package can be mighty intimidating, but just because you’ve passed the time written there doesn’t mean you should rush to toss your carton’s contents into the garbage. Read on to learn about how long you can eat eggs after the expiration date, what the expired egg test is, and more.

So, can you use eggs after the expiration date?

This short answer is yes, you can. If you have had a carton sitting in your fridge for a few weeks now, they are probably still safe to eat, especially if they have been stored properly. However, improperly handled eggs might contain harmful bacteria, so it’s important to be able to tell the difference between spoiled and expired eggs. Read on to learn everything you need to know.

What does the date on the egg carton mean?

Your egg carton likely contains several useful numbers, though the meaning of which can vary depending on the store or farm you got your eggs from. 

Here are some of the most common dates that can be included:

Pack date: this is the day the eggs were packed into the carton or tray. This number is displayed as three digits from 1-365, with January 1st being 0001 and December 31st being 365.
Best-by: This will be the date the eggs are at their peak quality. As long as your eggs don’t appear spoiled, it’s still safe to eat them after this time.
Exp or sell-by: EXP stands for “expiration” and it means the same thing as “sell-by”. This date has to be set at most 30 days after the carton pack date, which puts the eggs at 4 weeks old by this time.

How long do eggs last?

So with these numbers out of the way, how long do eggs actually last? Well, this all depends on where you store your eggs and at what temperature, and if you have washed or pasteurized them.

Do eggs expire if refrigerated?

Eggs will last an average of 3-5 weeks if kept in a fridge. It’s helpful to refer to the date on the carton to keep track of how long you’ve had your carton. After 5 weeks, eggs might start to decline and lose flavor/color and the texture might change as well. However, so long as they’re free from bacteria and mold, they should still be safe to consume. We have 3 tips to keep your eggs fresher for longer

(1) Make sure your eggs are properly stored

Most people store their eggs in the fridge, but some farm eggs can be kept on the countertop if they’ve been unwashed. Eggs can be stored on the countertop in egg baskets or other containers for a short period of time. However, they must be kept at a stable room temperature.
  • Temperature fluctuations may spoil eggs or accelerate their decline in quality.
  • Refrigerator storage is generally the best way to go.
  • Eggs keep best at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4-5 degrees Celsius).
  • If possible, avoid keeping them in the door because that’s often the warmest spot as it’s exposed to air more frequently.
  • We don’t recommend freezing either because the contents are likely to expand and damage the shell. If you do freeze your eggs, make sure to use them within one year.

(2) Know if your eggs have been washed

Unintuitively, once eggs have been washed, they’re more likely to transfer Salmonella or other types of bacteria from the outside to the inside of the shell. For this reason, you should try to store your eggs in the fridge immediately after washing, if possible. Cooler temperatures reduce chances of bacteria/salmonella contamination.

(3) Consider pasteurized eggs

The process of pasteurization heats eggs in warm water, which kills bacteria on the outside of the shell without damaging the contents on the inside. This is perfect for children, pregnant women, older adults, or those with compromised immune systems that are worried about coming in contact with a foodborne illness. This is also great for recipes that call for raw eggs like mixed drinks!

What is the expired egg test?

Worried that your egg has spoiled either because of poor storage or because it's past the expiration date?

Here are a few ways to check:

Smell: Are there any strange odors? Rotten eggs often smell of sulfur, and the stench is often strong enough you can smell it through the shell
Observe: Are there any cracks or slime on the shell? If there are obvious signs of discoloration to either the shell, yolk, or white, best to throw it away Gut feeling: It’s best not to eat the egg if you feel uncomfortable. “When in doubt, throw it out”
Float test: fill a glass with water and drop the egg in. If it sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If the egg floats, throw it out. It’s gone bad.
Break ‘em open test: crack open the egg on a flat plate. If fresh, the yolk will be round, compact, and sit high up in the middle, and the white should look thick. If not, the yolk will be quite flat and the white thin, and far spread. There’s no need to throw out your eggs if you discover a blood spot in them. Though unappetizing, they’re still safe to eat.

Eating expired eggs - the risks

Eating expired eggs and encountering a bacteria like salmonella usually means feeling sick for a few days for most people. However, the following higher-risk groups might want to consider more caution: Young children Older adults People with immunocompromised systems Pregnant women These folks are probably better playing it safe and avoiding expired or raw eggs, as contracting an illness might lead to a hospital visit.

So, how long are eggs good for after the sell by date?

Eggs will last you a long time. The dates on the carton are more of a reminder of how old the they are, than a level 10 warning of when you must stop all consumption. If an egg is older than five weeks, it might be good to consider testing it before dumping it into your fried rice. If an it’s less than 5 weeks old, you’re probably good to go.

Whether you’re frying your eggs or using them to bake, you don’t have to toss them out just because they’re past their expiration date. If your eggs still look and smell good, they probably are good. Don’t believe me? Just watch. Or in this case, just try!

Dealing with a lot of eggs? Consider shopping for new egg cartons! EggCartons.com carries a wide variety of paper, plastic, and foam egg cartons, and a variety of other chicken supplies.

 

Author: Sarah Moore has been with EggCartons.com for almost 4 years. Prior to coming here, she didn’t know the difference between a rooster and a hen. Sarah spent many years in business prior to landing at EggCartons.com and has since become an egg carton connoisseur. When she’s not thinking about egg cartons, she’s thinking about the things that go inside of them, which is usually food (in her case) and sometimes eggs. Since starting here, Sarah has tried raising chickens of her own and finally learned the difference between a rooster and a hen. 

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