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SAQ: Is it safe to eat old eggs?

Now, I love me some fresh fresh eggs, but for a lazy day-off scramble I am not picky. I’m a bachelor with a thinly-stocked refrigerator, and I have been traveling over the holidays. Today is the last on a two week vacation and I had two eggs left that I figured to scramble. Alas, the “sell by” date said November 7. Two month old eggs? Well . . . they’re probably fine but this struck me as occasion for a bit of research.

Google led me to a page which explains the Julian dating for egg packing, with the FDA guideline that eggs are good for up to three weeks past their “sell by” date.

Three weeks, eh?

Then I found a discussion among red-blooded Americans. The advice is that eggs age well enough if you are cooking them, and if there’s any doubt crack them into a separate bowl. Bad eggs will reek. If you are cooking and you crack the eggs into a separate bowl you will have isolated the bad egg without ruining the rest of your recipe.

The USDA will tell you more than you ever wanted to know. Dangerous bacteria are more likely to be on the outside of the egg, though eggs are washed before they are packed. The longer an egg sits the longer any bacteria inside has a chance to grow and make you ill. If an egg has gone really bad it will likely be somewhat obvious. All the same, cooking tends to kill bacteria, except that I personally do not cook eggs with the same heat and duration that I cook meat.

Anyway, I cracked my eggs, and while they did not have the beauty of fresh eggs they still looked and smelled okay. I cooked them in a hot pan over medium heat and enjoyed them with hot sauce, garlic salt and oregano. If they kill me in the next few days I’ll try to let you know.

All the same, if I was old, young, pregnant, HIV positive, or otherwise not a healthy adult with a strong immune system I would adhere more strictly to government guidelines.

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  • Mike

    A slightly less fresh egg makes for an easier-to-peel hard-boiled egg, I’ve found.

  • http://meat.net/ dbt

    If an egg doesn’t smell bad, it isn’t bad. If it is bad… you will absolutely positively know.

  • sam

    Sweet irony would be if the eggs went bad in the time it took you to do the research ;-)

    Thanks for the holiday card btw!

  • Rebecca

    Three weeks is a long time but three months is a different story…

    I had just celebrated my friend’s Birthday last night and wanted to cook an awesome breakfast to crown the whole movie-night event (AKA : “Sleepover” for people over the age of 13).

    I checked the date on the package and noticed I missed the mark by 3 months. So, I sat at my computer and began to search and weigh all the possibilities of life and poison the internet offered and then I found you.

    Sure my eggs were a little crunchy due to the “cooking” precautions I took, but I scrambled them with some Adobo and they were great. I ate them with a side of pancakes three hours ago and have lived to tell about it.

    Thanks for the info.

    ~Rebecca

  • Lynn

    The reason you don’t have to cook eggs with the same heat or duration as meat is because they are not nearly as thick. You don’t cook thin cuts of meat as long as thicker cuts. It takes time for the heat to penetrate into thicker cuts, but the whites and yolk of eggs are quite thin, especially if you spread them around your hot pan.

  • http://seasonedgoddess.blogspot.com/ Debbie Clark

    Thanks for the info! I’ve got some eggs a few weeks old and found your blog by Googling on the question of how long eggs are safe to eat. So I am going to go ahead and use them!

  • Sam

    Well, I sure hope you guys are right! I’ve just eaten 2 fried eggs that I now know are almost 2 months old…..found this page by searching “I ate old eggs”. Fingers crossed I won’t be sick!

  • Bill

    An egg in the shell that floats in a pan of cold water is bad.

  • Grant

    I ate an egg about a month+ overdue. It had been kept in the fridge the whole time and was the last of a package I’d been getting through too slowly. It didn’t float in water which was good and when I broke it into a cup it didn’t smell. So I ate it and I’m fine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwighttechnical Dwight Taylor

    ive got old eggs about a month long ill just eat em. see what happens

  • Bconrad86

    WellI just had 2 eggs that the sell by date said november 2010, today is may 24th of 2011.. I didn’t really smell them before cooking but tasted okay… I’ll repost if I get sick :/

  • Kiwi123

    I just ate an egg 7 days past the use by. It has been in the fridge though. I cracked it and it looked and smelt fine. I live in NZ, we are known for high salmonella rates in our chickens and therefore eggs. I did feel sick after that, BUT I am not sure if its just the cold that’s going around because I have ate old eggs before and nothing happened then. I still have more, so I might just eat them. Wish me luck.   

  • Robert

    The U.S. Navy has done a lot of research/experiments due to long voyages at sea.   According to my Uncle, a retired Navy cook, served in WWII when refrigeration was not so good, eggs can be kept a year or longer if well refrigerated, no cracked shells, smell test, AND COOKED – not sunny side up.  I just ate some this morning that are over 6 months old – and they were just fine!  :-)   But I wouldn’t ask anyone else to eat them…
    Cheers!
    Robert

  • Damnliza

    I ate an egg, 2 weeks expired yesterday. It looked okay, smelled pretty neutral, but I’m laying sick as hell today. 

    It varies from person to person. Some are weaker, and more prone to food poisoning :-(

  • EBakes

    This was helpful! Thanks! I just ate a cooked egg over toasted buttered english muffins, and the egg was over a month old, refrigerated. No problems! Yet……haha Good luck everyone! 

  • Bluesun267

    A May-December romance!  Well… I had a pack of eggs in the fridge that expired in May; it’s now December.   Cracked them into a bowl and the yolks look a bit darker, the whites a bit thicker– but no excessive membrane and no bad smell.  Made a perfectly fine omelet!

  • Veronika

    Never ever in my life I’ve heard that eggs can be poisonous if they are older, until few weeks ago. So, in all my life I’v eaten them with all my family, cooked or fried, even if they were two months old, stored normally in the refrigerator (I think we’v never had older eggs ;) ). We’ve never got sick. So from my experience, the story that older eggs could poison you seems to be more the kind of urban legend. Of course I would never eat it fresh, but the older’s egg’s  look doesn’t invite to drink it fresh, I think everyone with proper instincts could see it, it is even not so liquid.

  • frankz00

    I just had some old eggs for breakfast this morning! Breakfast of champions!