What Are the Dangers of Eating Expired Eggs?
Many health experts now hail eggs as a new super-food. Packed with protein and vitamins, eggs provide a healthy boost of nutrition to any diet. Thanks to modern food regulations, eggs are for the most part safe to consume. You should, however, be aware of the possibility of Salmonella and other bacteria. When stored properly, fresh shell eggs are safe to be consumed 4 to 5 weeks beyond the carton’s date of package. Not all cartons contain an expiry date, so remember to always check the color, consistency and smell of an egg after cracking it open.
The number one concern for egg safety is Salmonella. The United States Department of Agriculture says there are more than 2,300 kinds of Salmonella, which can cause intestinal infection, diarrhea and other ailments that can last up to a week. While the outer shell of an egg acts as a protective barrier, bacteria can still travel inside and infect the egg. Salmonella Enteritidis — a common type of Salmonella — can grow both in the yolk and white, which is why the USDA advises people not to eat raw or under cooked eggs.
Like all things organic, eggs will eventually spoil, especially after the expiry date. You can spot a spoiled egg by its change in appearance and smell. The most common type of spoilage bacteria in eggs, Pseudomonas, can grow at temperatures just about refrigeration. Though unpleasant, spoilage bacteria generally do not cause serious food-borne illness. You may, however, get an upset stomach. The Egg Safety Center recommends throwing away spoiled eggs.
Listeria is a harmful bacteria found in many foods, including egg products. The bacteria can cause listeriosis, resulting in potential complications during pregnancy, such as miscarriage and premature delivery, according to the USDA. While this food-borne illness is rare, a person who is infected is much more likely to die from the disease than Salmonella. For this reason, food products containing eggs, such as pancake mix, are often pasteurized. Hard boiled eggs should be consumed within a week to prevent contamination. The USDA also recommends applying this rule to egg salads, cakes and other foods containing fresh eggs.
Mold can grow on eggs if they are washed with dirty water or stored under humid conditions. Some molds can slowly penetrate through the shell and cause dark spots to grow even inside the white and yolk. Eating a moldy egg will likely not pose any serious threat to your health, as the fungus will die from stomach acid. It be harmful, though, especially to those who have mold allergy. The presence of mold on an egg may be a sign that there are other more serious bacterial infections.