Why USDA-graded eggs need to be stored in the fridge?

In the United States, regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandate that USDA-graded eggs undergo careful washing and sanitization before being sold to customers. This process eliminates bacteria from the outer surface of the shell and prevents Salmonella contamination, which is the main cause of food poisoning from poultry products.str

However, this process also removes or damages the cuticle, which is the egg’s natural, protective coating. Thus, the washed eggs also have a much higher risk of getting infected with salmonella and other bacteria. This is why we need to refrigerate eggs as soon as possible to prevent spoilage.

Therefore, the USDA guidelines advise choosing Grade A or AA eggs with clean, uncracked shells. You also need to ensure that they have been refrigerated in the store. We can preserve eggs for a few weeks in the refrigerator and up to one year in the freezer; nevertheless, their quality may deteriorate as time passes, affecting their taste and texture.

How long do eggs last in the fridge and at room temperature?

How long do eggs last in the fridge ?

According to the USDA, eggs can remain fresh in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks if they have been appropriately transported and stored. Refrigerating an egg at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) slows down the growth of bacteria, reducing the possibility of bacterial infiltration through the egg’s shell.

It is ideal to store eggs in their original carton and keep them at the back of the refrigerator. This will help prevent them from absorbing any odors and protect them from temperature fluctuations caused by frequent opening and closing of the refrigerator door.

Store eggs in original carton
Store eggs in their original carton and keep them at the back of the fridge.

We do not recommend freezing eggs with the shell on, as the egg white and yolk can expand when frozen and potentially break the shell. However, you can crack them into a freezer-safe container and store them in the freezer for a year or more. When you want to use the frozen eggs, defrost them and use them within a week.

You can store leftover egg yolks or whites, which remain after making meringue or flan, in the fridge for up to 4 days

In the United States, Australia, Japan, Sweden, or the Netherlands, eggs should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Thus, we need to store them in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

How long do eggs last at room temperature?

In many countries around the world, the approach is indeed the opposite. Nowadays, since hens receive vaccinations against Salmonella, the regulations in these countries require keeping the eggs unwashed and storing them outside the refrigerator at room temperature. In this case, you can safely store eggs at room temperature for 1-3 weeks.

Although you can keep unwashed eggs at room temperature, their quality will start to deteriorate after approximately five days. After about 21 days, the egg’s natural defenses become less effective, making it more susceptible to spoilage.

If you want to keep eggs for longer, you can refrigerate or freeze them, but they won’t last as long as eggs that you refrigerate from the start.

However, the quality of eggs tends to decline as time goes by. The air pocket within an egg increases in size, while the yolk and whites become thinner and less elastic. Ultimately, the egg may desiccate instead of rotting.

How long do hard boiled eggs last?

You can store hard-boiled eggs for up to one week if you store them properly in the refrigerator. Since the boiling process removes the protective coating of the eggs, it opens up the pores in the shell. This makes them vulnerable to bacteria, thus increasing the risk of contamination. After boiling, it is important to cool the eggs quickly and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. This helps prevent the growth of bacteria and extends their shelf life.

Also, only peel the eggs when you are ready to eat them, as the shells can protect them from bacterial contamination. However, note that over time, they may become less fresh and potentially develop a sulfurous odor. Therefore, it’s advisable to consume them within a week to ensure the best taste and quality.

hard boiled eggs
Peel the eggs only when you are ready to eat them.

For other cooked eggs, such as fried eggs, poached eggs, and even unshelled hard-boiled eggs, store them in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3 to 4 days.

How can you check if the egg is still fresh?

To check if an egg is still fresh, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a bowl with water.
  2. Gently place the egg into the water.
  3. If the egg sinks and lies flat on the bottom, it is fresh.
  4. If the egg stands upright on the bottom but is still touching the surface, it is starting to age but is still safe to eat.
  5. If the egg floats to the surface, it indicates that it is no longer fresh and you should discard it.

Additionally, crack the egg open into a bowl and inspect it for any off-odor or unusual appearance. A spoiled egg will emit an unpleasant odor when cracked open, whether raw or cooked. If you detect any signs of spoilage, discard the egg.

Reference: Healthline

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