8

I have a question about eggs and when it is safe to eat them.

I've read online that there are 2 ways to test if an egg is safe to eat or not (without cracking it open):

  1. Float test: Get a massive bowl, fill it with water and place the egg inside. If it sinks to the bottom and lays on its side, it's "fresh" (not old). If it bobs up slightly then it's a few weeks old and if it floats to the top throw it away (too old).

    Those sites also say that test is no indication of whether or not an egg is rotten, it only indicates the age of the egg and that eggs can be rotten before they even expire.

  2. Slosh test: Gently shake the egg near your ear. If you hear a distinct sloshing sound, the egg is rotten and should not be consumed.

Is the above true? Are they old wives tales/myths?

I've also read that egg shells covered in crap and blood are not safe to eat because they more than likely have bacteria. Why do most eggs have crap and blood on them?

I've also read that eggs with dark colored spots all over them should not be consumed. Why? Why do most eggs have weird colored spots all over them?

Sometimes when I gently shake an egg, it does not slosh but I can feel the insides moving around (it kind of feels like a big ball inside rocking back and forth) - is that normal? Is it safe to hard boil and consume those eggs?

I guess my question is, what are the guaranteed ways to determine if an egg is safe to consume without cracking it open? And please, if you can provide any official sources that would be great.

  • 5
    Eggs coverd in "crap" are likely not washed but only brushed. Washing eggs may make the shell/egg more appealing but it also damages the cuticle which is a natural protective coating. If eggs were washed they must be stored in the fridge. – Ching Chong Sep 10 '14 at 19:53
  • Thanks @Ching when I say they slosh I mean they slosh when I take them home (about 10mins after buying then) – jay_t55 Sep 10 '14 at 19:56
  • 2
    Do you crack the sloshing eggs open to verify they're rotten? I've never had a rotten egg in my life. – ElendilTheTall Sep 10 '14 at 19:57
  • 3
    I've encountered rotten eggs. Trust me, you'll know immediately that they're rotten from the smell. The idea that grocery stores in a 1st world country are selling rotten eggs is preposterous. – Carey Gregory Sep 12 '14 at 3:37
5

If the shell is undamaged, and the eggs are not past their expiration/best by date, they are safe to eat. Official source: your government's food safety agency, unless you live in a place with really really lax food regulation. But your profile says Australia - I'm sure things are fine there. If there are problems with salmonella outbreaks, it's not anything that you can detect. A salmonella-contaminated egg will look exactly like an uncontaminated one - that's why governments generally recommend you cook the egg, which will kill the salmonella and make it safe. If you're eating raw/undercooked eggs, you'll have to decide whether the risk where you are is low enough.

In practice, they're actually safe for a while after the best by date, just not as fresh, and if the shell is cracked without damaging the membrane or they were very recently cracked, they're also safe. But no damage and before the date is the most absolute guarantee you can get.

The two tests you mention will help you get some idea how fresh the eggs are. Neither has anything to do with good vs. rotten. As eggs get less fresh, they dry out a bit, forming a larger air pocket. So they'll slosh more, and start to float.

But it doesn't mean they're rotten. An actually rotten egg would be completely obvious by smell - they're sulfurous, a lot like the smell that's added to natural gas. If you're getting eggs that float in water on the day you buy them, with really obvious sloshing, yes, it means they're not fresh, so they're certainly not good as fresh eggs from a farm. So if that's the case, your supermarket isn't selling you good quality eggs. It doesn't mean they're unsafe, though.

As for "Why do most eggs have crap and blood on them?" ... "most" is a huge exaggeration, the places I've seen - they get washed. And as rumtscho pointed out in the comments, the eggs are coming out of a chicken, so some ugly stuff is natural. You never actually said what your eggs look like, but if you live in a place where they're not cleaned (even before selling in a supermarket??), then it still doesn't mean they're unsafe, just that you should probably clean them before cracking them.

And dark spots? Some eggs are naturally speckled - that'd be fine. If it's something else, I guess it would be helpful for you to provide a picture.

  • 1
    Eggs do have crap and sometimes blood on them, because this is how they come out of the chicken. It's a kind of birth after all, and chickens have cloacas, not separate canals for birth, solid and liquid excretion. Large commercial producers here in Europe usually remove the ugly stuff (but not washing the protective wax off), but it is possible that in other parts of the world this isn't so usual, or that the OP buys eggs from a small farmer who doesn't bother. – rumtscho Sep 12 '14 at 8:37
  • @rumtscho Thanks, edited. (Meant to be speaking more about the way they're sold.) – Cascabel Sep 12 '14 at 15:18
  • There's one test that might show a rotten egg without cracking the shell -- candling (looking at the light shining through the egg). From what I've read, the bacteria blocks the light, so light doesn't pass through the same ... but I have no idea how spoiled it has to be for that to work. – Joe Aug 11 '18 at 1:01
2

A floater does not indicate a rotten egg. It only indicates an old egg. When a chicken lays an egg there is no air inside. The shell is porous and over time water will evaporate out of the egg leaving an air pocket at one end. If you're concerned, crack the egg into a small bowl and smell it. If it smalls bad, discard. Cooking will kill salmonella, but no need to risk getting sick.

The USDA requires all eggs sold in the US be washed. This washes away a protective coating that keeps bacteria out of the egg. An effect of washing and removing the coating means you have to refrigerate the egg. Commercial egg producers coat their eggs with mineral oil to extend the life of the egg. Sailors will sometimes coat eggs with petroleum jelly to extend the life out to a year. In Europe, washing eggs is illegal. No washing means the eggs don't need to be refrigerated. Ironically the rate of salmonella poisoning due to bad eggs is lower in Europe than the US. Washing aside, salmonella can infect an egg from inside the chicken so sometimes the chicken is vaccinated against salmonella.

You shouldn't eat cracked eggs. The only exception might be that you know you cracked the egg accidentally on the way home from the market — but you would need to cook and eat it quickly.

It typically takes a few days to pack and ship an egg. Commercially sold eggs will actually have two dates on the carton. You're familiar with the best when used by date. There's also a "secret" date that tells you when the carton was packed. It's in Julian date format so you have to do a little deciphering. If the Julian date code says 365, the carton was packed on December 31. That gives you a better idea of how old the eggs are.

-2

According to a local farmer I spoke with: when you shake an egg and it sloshes, it's rotten. When it floats to the top of a bowl of water its too old and if you feel something moving around inside when you shake it its rotten. If any of those 3, you should not consume the egg. If it has a hairline crack do not eat it because chances are bacteria has already entered into the egg. I also told him that lately when I buy eggs from the supermarket most of them slosh when I shake them gently and he said that's because by the time they get from the farm to the distributor then to the actual supermarket they're already a month old in many cases. So that explains everything. I was right. The eggs have been rotten and I'm not paranoid without good reason.

I just bought a carton of the local farmers eggs and not a single one of them sloshed, moved around inside or floated to the top in a bowl of water.

  • 4
    -1: this is clearly false. Yes, with a lot of storebought eggs you can feel something slightly moving around (though with the ones I get it's really really hard to notice). But that means they're not fresh. It does not mean they're rotten. There's no way your supermarket is selling everyone rotten eggs - they'd be disgusting, and no one would be buying them anymore. Not as fresh as straight from a farmer? Sure. Rotten? No way. – Cascabel Sep 12 '14 at 2:54

protected by Community Dec 31 '15 at 17:10

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.