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I bought some fresh eggs the other day which don't expire until next month.

They've remained in the fridge in their carton. I just realised that a few of the eggs are cracked.

Is it still safe to hard boil and eat the eggs from that carton that haven't been cracked?

  • Absolutely. Even the cracked ones are still usable if you boil / fry / whatever them asap. – Stephie Oct 4 '15 at 12:18
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    To be clear they were probably cracked in the supermarket or on the way home the other day. I didn't cracked them just now. – username Oct 4 '15 at 12:24
  • Stephie is correct. Sorry, autocorrect fail. – username Oct 4 '15 at 13:04
  • I know. It was just the gender mix-up I was referring to. – Patrick Hofman Oct 4 '15 at 14:35
  • Cracked eggs shouldn't be eaten: FDA, USDA, NSW Food Authority, and Departments of Health for Queensland and Victoria. – kdbanman Oct 5 '15 at 19:55
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It does seem dangerous to me. You don't know where they have been before you bought them, so bacteria and other stuff can contaminate the eggs with their shell broken. You can safely eat the eggs that didn't break. Their shell and membrane protects them. The broken ones should be thrown away if you want to be sure you are safe.

This reference puts it this way:

Cracks in the shells of eggs can allow bacteria or other pathogens to contaminate the egg and make you sick. While cooking does reduce the amount of most contaminants, it does not remove them completely.

And from the USDA:

Bacteria can enter eggs through cracks in the shell. Never purchase cracked eggs. However, if eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover it tightly, keep refrigerated, and use within 2 days. If eggs crack during hard cooking, they are safe. Remember that all eggs should be thoroughly cooked.

  • So I can't even boil eggs that are not cracked, but came from the same carton? – username Oct 4 '15 at 12:45
  • You can eat the eggs that didn't break. Their shell protects them. The broken ones should be thrown away if you want to be sure you are safe. – Patrick Hofman Oct 4 '15 at 12:46
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    The shell is permeable and is not part of what keeps out infections and bacteria. It's the membrane that does that. If the membrane hasn't ruptured than an egg riddled with cracks is just as protected as one without cracks in the shell. – Escoce Oct 5 '15 at 18:36
  • @Escoce, can you cite your claim? The FDA, the USDA, and the Departments of Health for Queensland and Victoria all agree that cracked eggs shouldn't be eaten unless they're immediately shelled and refrigerated. – kdbanman Oct 5 '15 at 19:35
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    As is common of regulatory documents, links to original, peer reviewed research do not exist in the documents I just shared, so I am willing to believe that cracked eggs still could be safe, but I will not believe it until appropriate citations are provided. Sure, shells are porous, but they're still protection. One of the documents I linked instructed not to wash eggs with water, because the shell is more porous when wet and more readily allows bacteria through. Surely if the membrane were perfect protection, then a more porous shell would not matter. – kdbanman Oct 5 '15 at 19:44
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I've left comments everywhere on this thread because food safety deserves a lot of visibility. Summary here:

While this may not be standard terminology, these egg safety guidelines from the NSW government distinguish between broken and cracked eggs. (It also says that both are unsafe.)

  • A broken egg has neither shell nor membrane intact
  • A cracked egg has membrane intact, but shell not intact

Cracked eggs shouldn't be eaten says the FDA, the USDA, the NSW Food Authority, and the Departments of Health for Queensland and Victoria.

As is common of regulatory documents, links to original, peer reviewed research do not exist in the documents I just shared, so I am willing to believe that cracked eggs still could be safe, but I will not believe it until appropriate citations are provided.

My own speculation: sure, shells are porous, but they're still protection. One of the documents I linked instructed not to wash eggs with water, because the shell is more porous when wet and more readily allows bacteria through. Surely if the membrane were perfect protection, then a more porous shell would not matter.

  • Shells offer zero biological protection. They only provide structural support. – Escoce Oct 5 '15 at 19:59
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    @Escoce, citation please. – kdbanman Oct 5 '15 at 20:06
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Normally only safe for a few hours. Need to be cooked right away. Setting a few days I would not chance it. That is fresh eggs. Farm fresh that day's eggs. Not store bought & set for how long?

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If you dropped a carton of eggs while loading your groceries in the fridge i would cook those eggs ASAP the moment they dropped get that frying pan ready and cook them whether you're hungry or not other wise toss them out in the garbage.Eggs are not very expensive.Cracked eggs can easily be replaced with only a few dollars but a human life can not be replaced. Toss the cracked or broken eggs out.

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