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Assessing Egg Quality and Freshness : Tricks to Determine If Your Eggs Are Safe to Eat

Every time you reach out for an egg, you are in doubt as to its freshness, as you are not sure for how many days it has been sitting there in your pantry.  The quality of the egg declines with time, as the whites of the eggs lose their viscosity with time and the size of the air pocket within the egg also increase.(4)  However, an egg is termed as “bad” only when decomposition starts inside the egg due to mold or bacteria.

To get rid of this conundrum, we will discuss about different tricks for assessing egg quality and freshness and to know if they are safe for consumption.

Always Check the Date of Expiration to Know If the Eggs Are Fresh

Checking the expiry date on the eggs is an easy way to assess the quality and freshness of the eggs. However, if you keep the eggs in the fridge, then they will still remain fresh even past the expiration date. Expiration date is the date where the eggs are deemed less than fresh.(1)

There are other dates which you can look for:

Sell by Date: This date is for the stores to sell their eggs by that time and not keep in the store after the date has passed. A minimum of 30 days after packing is the sell by date. However, it does not necessarily mean that the eggs have gone bad after this date.

Pack Date: Eggs graded by the USDA need to have a “pack date” on the carton that indicates the day on which the eggs were graded, washed, and packed.(2, 3) However, if you don’t know what you are looking for, you may not identify this date.

If the eggs are within 21 to 30 days after the “pack date,” then the chances are the eggs are still fresh.

Even though the egg quality can start to recede after passing a certain date, they may still be good to eat for many weeks, more so if they have been refrigerated, as this prevents bacterial growth and preserves its quality.

Doing the Sniff Test for Assessing Egg Quality and Freshness

The sniff test is the simplest, oldest and the most reliable way of finding out if the egg has gone bad. Simply sniffing the eggs can tell you if the eggs are fresh or not, as rotten eggs give off an unmistakable odor, irrespective of if they are cooked or raw. If you are not able to ascertain when the egg is present in the shell, then crack the egg and give it a sniff. If it smells off, then throw the egg away. If the smell of the egg is normal, then it means that the egg is still safe to use.

The Shake Test for Assessing Egg Quality and Freshness

It this method, hold the egg next to your ear and gently shake it. If there is a rattling sound to be heard, then it means that the egg is too old for consumption. The rattle sound occurs due to the increasing air pocket and the drying of the contents of the egg which occurs as the egg ages.(4)

Thoroughly Checking the Egg Shell

Looking at the egg and its shell closely can also help in telling if the egg is good or bad. Check the shell for any cracks, or if it is powdery or slimy. Cracks and sliminess indicates that bacteria are present and a powdery appearance on the egg shell may mean that there is mold present.

If the shell looks undamaged and dry, then crack the egg into a clean and white bowl before using. If there is any iridescent or pink discoloration in the whites or the yolk, it indicates bacterial growth. In such cases, throw the egg and wash the bowl using hot, soapy water before you are testing a different egg.

If the whites and yolks are runny, then this also indicates that the egg is old and the quality of the eggs has gone down.

The Popular Float Test

Another popular method for assessing egg quality and freshness is the float test.(5) This method is quite common and helps in assessing the age of a fertilized egg that is growing into a chick.

For float test, gently place the egg into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, then it means it is fresh and the quality is good. If the egg floats or tilts upwards, then it means that it is old and way past its fresh days.

The reason behind this is, as the egg gets old, the air pocket present within grows bigger and water gets released and the air replaces it.(4) As the air pocket increases in size, the egg will float in the water.

This method is good at telling if the eggs are fresh or old; however, it can’t tell if the egg has gone bad or not. An egg can be bad and still sink, while it can float and still be good to eat.


It is important to know about these simple tricks for assessing egg quality and freshness, as there are many people who throw away good eggs and many who unknowingly consume eggs which have gone bad or which are not that fresh.

Among all the tips listed here, the most conclusive method for assessing egg quality and freshness is cracking it open, sniffing it and looking for any discoloration in it. Eating eggs that have been contaminated by bacteria, results in food-borne illness, like Salmonella, even though the said egg can smell and look completely fine.

So, even if an egg has passed all these tests, it is still important to completely cook the egg to a safe temperature before consuming it.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 11, 2023

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