And what will happen if I eat them after they're past the expiry date?

  • 1
    What country are you in? Does your egg supplier wash the eggs first? Do they look washed? If not they can last a very long time. Of course they are only "designed" to last three to four weeks at 37°C (98°F) – TFD Mar 27 '11 at 11:31

All of the answers you are looking for have been touched on in various parts of this question: How long can I keep eggs in the refrigerator?


  • Expiration dates are for best quality only. Nothing magical happens on that date.
  • Truly fresh eggs (i.e. from the chicken) will hardly degrade at all even after a year in storage.
  • Supermarket eggs are washed, removing the protective layer and lowering the shelf life.
  • Some supermarket eggs are already contaminated with salmonella, and there's no test you can do to find out for sure (other than eating them raw). This will cause serious problems if you leave them in storage for several months, unless you freeze them.
  • Lastly, damaged eggs will simply go rotten. You won't always see the damage, but you'll definitely smell it by the time you hit that best-before date.

As with just about every other food, you're better off interpreting the sell-by or best-before dates as a conservative guideline; any food can go off before the date if it's been damaged or mis-handled, and many foods will still be fine long after they "expire". StillTasty.com is a good resource for finding out how long various foods actually last in storage.

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    Maybe in the US, but not necessarily in many other countries. Egg washing is not required or common around the world – TFD Mar 27 '11 at 11:26
  • @TFD: I don't live in the US and wish you wouldn't be so quick to point out what you perceive as issues or oddities there. Canadian and EU food inspection regulations both require eggs to be sanitized from salmonella; in some cases "egg packing centres" are allowed to do microbial tests but most don't, because it's far easier to just wash them with a disinfectant. – Aaronut Mar 27 '11 at 16:58
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    @Aaronut Sorry, should have said North America. AFAIK in the EU and many other western countries, food laws specifically ban washing eggs except for specially controlled systems that use a gentle warm water wash which does not damage the egg cuticle – TFD Mar 27 '11 at 21:46
  • @TFD: That is incorrect, and I specifically referred to the EU above. This is in Regulation 853/2004; the only stipulation therein is that disinfecting has to kept separate from other processing, and some sections for some specific countries insist on either very strict negative tests (which will usually fail given the conditions in most large-scale suppliers) or separate disinfecting. A "gentle warm water wash" would be pointless as it would not kill any bacteria. There's plenty of legitimate criticism of agribiz, but let's please stick to the facts. – Aaronut Mar 27 '11 at 22:46
  • @Aaronut Are you sure sure? I have not read the regulations, but a quick google check shows that as the "egg products" regulations. Fresh eggs are different, as in most countries of the world. Again a quick google finds 589/2008 for these. Only saying this as my practical experience is only of unwashed eggs in the EU (never bought from supermarket though) – TFD Mar 28 '11 at 0:19

The sell by date isn't so much going bad (bad eggs are rather obvious) but Salmonella.

Most eggs, especially factory farmed, have traces of salmonella on them - it can pass through the shell. But unless you are already ill you can handle it, the older the are the longer the bug has add to get into the egg and grow.

  • 1
    Same again. Maybe in the US, but not necessarily in many other countries. Egg washing is not required or common around the world – TFD Mar 27 '11 at 11:26
  • Same again, @TFD. Yes, it is common around the world, and yes, it is required if the distributor isn't testing every individual egg for salmonella. – Aaronut Mar 27 '11 at 17:00
  • Vaccinating hens against salmonella is very common in Europe (and actually required in many cases), so this mostly becomes a non-issue. – Matthias Brandl Nov 6 '19 at 14:50

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