Putting Eggshells Back In The Carton Is A Disaster Waiting To Happen

When whipping up an egg-based dish, such as a delicious mini herb omelet or sweet corn quiche, maybe you crack the eggs you need for your recipe before placing their empty eggshells back in the carton. This may seem to make sense because it saves you time, and you can dispose of the shells later. But it's a bad idea because after an egg's been cracked, there's usually still a bit of gloopy egg white or yolk left behind in its shell, which can harbor harmful bacteria such as salmonella, as Today reports. 

While salmonella can contaminate the outside of eggshells, such as when birds make contact with them when laying them, it can also contaminate the inside of eggs, which occurs when eggs form inside the chicken before the shell, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. This means that raw eggs can contain salmonella bacteria, so you don't want to be exposed to it. 

Other reasons why storing broken eggshells in cartons is risky

Not only does putting cracked eggshells back into the carton spread bacteria to the remaining eggs that are left inside, but it's also bad for the carton, which could get infected with germs. When you touch the fresh eggs the next time you want to use them, they can expose you to bacteria. 

While it can be convenient — and eco-friendly — to use and re-use your egg carton for egg and eggshell storage, it's not a good idea because you can't clean the egg cartons thoroughly (luckily there are other uses for those egg cartons). This is because they're usually made out of materials such as cardboard, paper, or foam. So when you're putting new eggs into the carton, they're just mopping up all the bacteria that's already in there from the previous eggs that dripped onto them. Gross. If you consider that salmonella bacteria can live for up to a few months in moisture-rich environments and a few weeks in dry areas, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports, it's just not worth the risk. 

Proper egg and eggshell handling tips

You should always store your eggs in their original container, as long as the container hasn't come into contact with raw eggs. Manufacturers sanitize the eggs before they're packaged, so you don't have to wash the eggs before using them in a delicious Caesar salad or other egg-centric dishes. Doing so could actually increase the risk of contamination because water can penetrate the eggshell's pores.

Whenever you've handled eggs, such as when cracking them into cake batter, make sure that you wash your hands before touching the egg carton or other cooking utensils to prevent the spread of germs in your kitchen. Get into the habit of disposing of eggshells immediately after cracking eggs — it's a good idea to make this convenient by storing your compost bin within close proximity to the kitchen counter where you're working. Keep your egg cartons clean and free of eggshells. No one wants bacteria as a side dish to their breakfast eggs!