Eggs are among the most nutritious foods. However, it can be quite challenging to tell whether the eggs are good and safe for consumptions. This blog discusses some of the strategies you can use to determine whether the eggs are safe.

Eggs are known superfoods containing vitamins, minerals, low saturated fat, high protein, and antioxidants. The safest way to store eggs is refrigeration to enhance their lifespan since if stored for longer periods its quality starts to decline due to the decomposition of bacteria. At times people store them in the fridge and can’t remember how long they have been there. Since consuming rotten eggs could lead to food poisoning and various health complications, we compile some methods that can help you know if your eggs are goodfor consumption.

Confirm the Expiry Date

Most eggs vendors indicate the expiry date on the carton to allow you to know if they are fresh. For example, eggs sold in most states in the US are labeled with “sell by,” indicating how the eggs should be stored before they are sold. On the other hand, the expiry date on the carton indicates for how long the eggs can stay fresh. In some cases, the Julian dates replace these two labeling methods to help you know how fresh your eggs are. However,refrigerated eggs can remain fresh past their indicated expiry date because refrigeration inhibits bacteria growth.

Sniff the Eggs

Your nose could be used to determine the freshness of cooked foods and uncooked ones. Rotten eggs produce a sulfur odor that can be detected from outside the eggshell through sniffing. Sniffing is one of the most reliable methods for confirming is an egg is bad. If you are not satisfied by the smell of the shell then, it is best to crack the shell open and sniff it.  Normally fresh eggs ought to have a neutral smell, but they give an awful odor once that has gone bad. This smell is noticed at times even after the eggs have been cooked, and one ought to throwthem because they are unsafe for consumption.

Conduct a Visual Inspection

Apart from using your nose, your eyes are a very important asset in helping determine the freshness of eggs. During the inspection, it’s important to look out for cracks on the shell, which could indicate bacteria presence.If you also notice a powdery appearance, it could signifymold presence, potentially telling that the egg is bad. Additionally, some eggs will show discoloration once the shell is broken, giving blue, pink, blue, black, or green on either the yolk or white. This is normally an indication of bacteria growth, and it’s best to throw these eggs away. Observing the color of the white is essential where clear white indicates it is aged but can be consumed, and cloudy white shows it is fresh.

Conduct a Float Test

All eggs are covered by a protective membrane that prevents bacteria from invading the interior of the egg. When conducting a float test, slowly place the egg in a bowl of water. If you notice the egg tilting or floating, it shows that the egg is old; conversely, should it sink, it is fresh. Since immersing an egg in water destroys its protective membrane, it is best to refrigerate or use them immediately; otherwise, bacteria will attack them. Floating eggs is not conclusive to determine whether an egg is rotten or not since old eggs that are not necessarily bad also float.

Candle your eggs

This method is probably the oldest technique of determining egg freshens. In the past, individuals would light candles in a dark room, hold the egg in their hands and look through with one eye closed towards the candle. This investigation was intended to determine germ development or a growing chick.  Today people use flashlights, electric bulbs, and advanced machines as candle alternatives for better results.  Candling eggs help establish the condition of the yolk, air cell, the white meat spot, or the blood spot that could explain the freshness of an egg. If you wonder how to perform egg candling, ensure you have held the light source at the end of the egg. Now quickly tilt and turn the egg from right to left, allowing the light to illuminate its content.  In a freshegg, you will notice that the egg air cells are relatively small (Approximately 3.175mm); however, old or bad eggs have large air cells as water in the egg is replaced by gasses through evaporation.  The egg white and yolk condition can also be determined by shaking the egg side to side; an increased water-like movement would show the egg is bad.

Crack the Egg on a Flat Plate

Cracking the egg on flat plates enables you to examine the quality of the white and yolk. Fresh eggs tend to hold together than aged older eggs. If the white settles close to the yolk and is defined while the yolk is at the center of the plate, your egg is fresh. However, if the white is watery and runny and the yolk is smooth and flat,it signifies that the egg is old though it does not mean it is rotten. Often the watery whites in the eggs result from poor storage (low humidity and high temperatures) that enhances the aging process.

Perform the Sloshing Test

Another method that can help determine if your eggs are fresh is by gently shaking the egg close to your ear; if you happen to hear a sloshing sound, it shows the egg is old though still edible, but if no sloshing sound, it indicates its fresh.

The Bottomline

Some people are quick to throw away eggs because they are not sure if they are fresh or bad. Some eggs may not be rotten and can be consumed past their expiry date if properly stored. Several tests such as confirming the expiry date, sniffing the eggs, conducting a visual inspection, performing a float test, candling the egg, cracking the egg on a flat plate, and doing a sloshing test can help us determine the freshness of an egg.

Elena Ognivtseva
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Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS

I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

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