What Really Happens When You Eat Expired Eggs?

These days, eggs are a luxury not to be wasted. In the past year, egg prices have nearly doubled, possibly due to one main reason: The Avian flu. The bird flu has been hitting chicken farmers around the country quite hard. NBC reports that nearly 51 million birds, including chickens and turkeys, have died in the past year due to the virus, and it's affected farmers' abilities to produce enough eggs to meet the population's demand. That, combined with inflation, has led to skyrocketing egg prices.

As a result, you might be desperate to not let even one single egg go unused. Still, eggs often come in packs of 12, which means it's not always easy to use them all before the sell-by date. And when that happens, you're left scrambling (pun intended) for a quick way to make sure they don't go to waste. But is it always necessary to eat eggs before the date on the carton? Here's what happens if you eat expired eggs.

There is a difference between expired and spoiled

Expiration dates aren't necessarily a be-all-end-all for food. They are a general guideline for when food goes bad, but it isn't as if the clock strikes midnight on a perishable item's expiration date, and it's suddenly toxic to consume. When it comes to eggs, they are perfectly fine to eat for several weeks past their expiration date, as long as they are still fresh. You can determine an egg's freshness by using the water test. If you place an egg in a cup of water, and it sinks onto its side, then it's still fresh and fine to eat. If it stands straight up but still sinks to the bottom, it's losing some freshness but won't make you sick. However, if the egg floats, it has gone bad and should be discarded.

Eggs that are "expired" might stay fresh for a few weeks after their date, but if an egg is spoiled, it should not be eaten. Spoiled eggs could be contaminated with salmonella, a bacterial infection that leads to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and cramps. Though most people are able to recover without much medical attention, immunocompromised people could be hospitalized or, in some cases, the infection could be fatal.

Other ways to tell if an egg is spoiled

The water trick is only one way to tell if your eggs have gone bad. You can also use your senses to decide whether an egg is safe to eat. Of course, the term "rotten egg" comes from the idea that spoiled eggs look and smell unappealing. When you crack an egg, it should not give off much of a scent; a spoiled egg, though, will likely have a foul, sulfur-like odor that will be immediately noticeable.

Visually, it's usually easy to tell when an egg is no longer fresh. Spoiled eggs often have cracked shells, so keep an eye out for any imperfections in the shell. Plus, a slimy texture or powdery substance is a no-go, as these can be signs of mold. When you crack the egg into a bowl or pan, the egg white should be clear, and the yolk should be bright. If you notice any discoloration on the yolk, especially an iridescent or pink color, discard it right away.

When it comes to spoiled eggs, it's always better to be safe than sorry. Try the water test, and check its scent and for anything visually off on the shell or egg itself. If any of these tests yield any doubts about the egg's freshness, it's best to toss it in the trash.