Have you ever forgotten you left your egg in the backseat of your car till the next day? We have all had our experiences with groceries! With eggs being the staple food in every house, we may have left them in the car or on the shelf instead of refrigerating them!
However, if you wonder if the egg is potentially safe, you have found the right article! Two major factors that determine the potential safety of the egg are the temperature at which it was stored and the duration.
There are many conflicting opinions regarding that on the internet regarding this topic. Thus, by comprehending the recommendations made by the FDA and USPA, we will put an end to the debate in this article.
How to Know if Eggs are Safe to Eat after Leaving in the Car
Since only a very small number of bacteria can thrive at low temperatures, it is advisable to refrigerate eggs to prevent any contamination. However, if you have left eggs in the car, the temperature in the car will be favorable for the growth of bacteria and microbes.
There have been instances where improper storage of eggs has resulted in people getting infected with diseases.
Furthermore, according to a research article published in Science Direct, the chances of contracting Salmonella increase if the egg is not stored and handled properly.
Listed below are four easy ways to test if the egg is safe for consumption before discarding them.
One of the biggest giveaways that the egg is a potential health hazard is by observing it closely. Once you have recollected your egg from the car, thoroughly inspect for any cracks, molds, and the integrity of the shell coat.
If you notice that the egg has any of these, you can discard them immediately. Compromised shell integrity or a cracked shell will give easy access to bacteria and fungus to colonize in and out of the eggshell.
The float test is the easiest and fastest test that can help you understand the safety of your egg. Eggs have a semi-permeable membrane. Hence, water and air can go in and out of the membrane depending on the concentration gradient.
The older the egg, the more air will enter the shell because the environment has a higher air concentration than the eggshell’s interior. Thus, increasing the buoyancy of the egg.
Since we all want fresh eggs, we must opt for eggs that are not filled with air. With air, the chances of contaminants entering the eggshell also increase.
To do this test, all you need is a bowl of water! In the bowl, add your egg. If the egg floats on the water’s surface, the egg’s density is lighter than water; thus, the egg has more air. Consuming such an egg may be a risk one should try to avoid.
If the egg sinks in the water, the air that has penetrated the shell is relatively less, making the egg potentially safe for consumption.
However, the test is not the most accurate on the list. As per USDA, the float test may be pseudo-negative, and the egg may be fit for consumption, even if it floats on the water surface, due to the enlarged cell type.
How often have you seen people shake their eggs to determine whether they are fresh? Well, yes, it is a common practice that chefs usually use to understand the health of the yolk.
In this test, you must shake the egg lightly while holding it close to your ears. It’s bad news if you hear a plopping noise! Such a sound denotes that the consistency of the yolk has been compromised. As a result, the egg may be past its prime or contaminated with bacteria.
If your eyes cannot detect a flaw, the sense of smell will help you! Sniffing the egg is one of the most accurate ways to understand the egg’s safety.
As per USDA, an egg with a remnant sulfur smell or a rotten pungent smell will retain that odor even after cooking. Hence, if you smell something off about your eggs, do not cook them, and do not eat them.
What is the difference between American and European Eggs?
According to an article published by FDA, eggs-related infections are responsible for about 142,000 illnesses a year! Hence, American poultries and manufacturing companies improvised and added additional steps to ensure that the eggs sold in the markets were fit and safe from consumption.
In America, once the eggs are laid, it is introduced into a machine where it is gently washed with soaps and shampoos to eliminate any bacterias or contaminants present on the outer shell. It is a great way to ensure that the bacterias are free from pathogens that can transfer from the hen during egglaying.
However, doing so also strips eggs of their cuticle, their natural protective covering. The cuticle serves as a barrier and aids in lowering the egg’s overall semi-permeability.
Once the egg is devoid of this cuticle, the only way to keep them safe from bacterial growth is by keeping them in the refrigerator. Hence, it is common in America to store eggs in their fridge.
In Europe, it is illegal to remove the cuticle from eggs. Hence, it is usually stored for days on the counter and can remain unaffected by contamination owing to its protective barrier.
What happens if I leave the egg in a car for 3 hours?
If you forget to pick up your carton of eggs after supermarket shopping and are unsure if it is safe to cook them, you must first identify the type of egg you purchased.
If the egg is washed, it must be refrigerated to prevent bacterial invasion. If the eggs you purchased that has an intact cuticle, they can be stored at room temperature for a long time.
The temperature at which it is stored, or the weather on that particular day, is the second vital element one must consider before consuming or disposing of them.
If the temperature is between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit
If the temperature on the day you forgot your egg was between 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit, you are in luck! Since the temperature mimics the temperature inside a refrigerator, the eggs should be safe.
However, inspect for any physical damage or hairline cracks before consuming or storing them in your cold storage. If you notice any visible damage on the external shell, it may not be safe for consumption, even though it was at low temperatures.
If the temperature is between 45-100 degrees Fahrenheit
If the temperature on the day you forgot your egg was between 45-100 degrees Fahrenheit, the eggs may not be safe for consumption. As per Food Safety, eggs stored at high temperatures for more than 30 minutes will be ideal for bacterial bloom.
If the temperature on the day you stored your egg is high or if the car is hot, or if the weather witnesses temperature fluctuations, the egg may have developed microbial growth.
The egg begins to sweat at such high temperatures and release water. The water and temperature facilitate easy proliferation for bacteria by providing the optimum growth conditions and nutrients.
Can I consume eggs left in a cold car below the freezing point?
Well, if you left your egg in your car on a day when the weather was below freezing, the egg will be safe for consumption! How often have you heard chefs recommend using room-temperature eggs for baking, not frozen ones? Ever wondered why?
Well, when the egg is frozen, the yolk becomes thicker; hence, it may not be easy to blend them and get the thin consistency that many baking recipes demand.
At temperatures below the freezing point, the chances of bacteria infiltrating the shell and surviving are very less; hence, if you don’t notice any physical damage on the shell, the egg will be safe. However, before using them, make sure you thaw them at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
How Long Can a European Egg or Unwashed Egg be left?
Since these eggs have an intact cuticle, they have a natural defense system that helps keep them hydrated and free from contamination. Such eggs do not require refrigeration and can be stored at room temperature for about three to four weeks.
So if you end up leaving them in your car, you can still be assured that they will be free from contaminants and infections.
How to Store Boiled Eggs
Boiled eggs can be one of the best on-the-go snacks that provide an instant boost of protein. Hence, it is only fair that many people prefer to store them after boiling them to make them readily available. However, eggs are prone and vulnerable to bacteria; hence, special care must be taken to refrigerate them after boiling.
Listed below is a step-by-step guide that can help you store boiled eggs for up to 7 days.
Step 1: Once the egg is boiled, immediately place it in cold water. The sudden temperature change ensures no time for microbes to contaminate and flourish.
Step 2: Once the eggs are cooled, wipe them clean with a paper towel.
Step 3: If you want to peel the shell before storing them, the best way to store them is in an air-tight container like a Pyrex glass bowl.
Tip: Add cold water to the container and place the eggs to avoid temperature fluctuations.
Step 4: If the plan is to store them with the shell, you can store them in ziplock bags or containers to keep the eggs safe from strong odors.
If you leave the egg at room temperature for more than two hours after cooking it, it is preferable to discard it. After boiling, it must be refrigerated within 60 minutes.
How to Store Eggs With Refrigeration
If you are residing in a country where eggs need to be stored in the fridge to prevent their deterioration, it is best to store them inside the fridge in an air-tight container.
Air-tight containers will ensure that the egg remains free from absorbing any external or strong odors that may potentially remain even after cooking. Additionally, avoid placing them on the refrigerator door.
When the fridge is used, the door is the first thing to open, which increases the probability of fluctuation and, thus, the likelihood of contamination.
How to Store Eggs Without Refrigeration
If you stay in an area where eggs are not pre-washed and have an intact cuticle or waxy layer, it is safe to store them without refrigerating them. However, it is imperative to understand that eggs that are not washed will have a shorter life span than refrigerated ones.
It is therefore recommended to eat unrefrigerated eggs within three weeks of purchase. Use a solid, secure container to store them. It aids in preserving the eggs, preventing contamination, and avoiding the accompanying cleanup mess it may make on the counter if it cracks.
A great technique is to wash the egg before cooking to remove any accumulated dust or other particles from the shell. Wash an egg only if you intend to use it right away; never wash an egg and then set it back on the counter.
Egg storage, going bad, and prevention FAQs
In this section, we have answered some commonly asked questions.
How long can cooked scrambled eggs be refrigerated?
Answer: Once the egg is cooked, it should be introduced into the refrigerator within 30 minutes. Scrambled eggs can be stored in a freezer bag for 3-5 days. However, the consistency and overall flavor may change due to refrigeration.
Why Do Eggs have Salmonella?
Answer: Eggs can get infected by SalmonellaSalmonella within minutes after they are laid if the animal dropping around them is infected. Since this bacteria can thrive inside the egg due to an excellent nutritional medium, eggs can carry this bacteria for months.
How to Freeze Eggs?
Answer: The best way to freeze eggs is without the shell. Whip the egg white and the yolk together and store them in clean ice trays or ziplock bags. You should refrain from storing eggs along with the shell because the chances of the shell cracking at such low temperatures are high.
Due to the busy lifestyles, we all lead, leaving groceries in the car or on the counter is not uncommon. So, try not to be too harsh on yourself! You can perform any of the tests mentioned above to understand the egg’s safety.
If you are still unsure, you can analyze the temperature-to-time ratio. If the temperature is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the eggs will be fit for consumption for at least 2 hours.
However, if you forgot your egg on a bright sunny day, the bacteria will begin invading it within 30 minutes.
I hope you found this article helpful. Let us know in the comments below if you have any other queries regarding this.
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.