What Happens to Eggs When They Expire?

Eggs can remain fresh for up to three weeks past the expiration date.
Eggs can remain fresh for up to three weeks past the expiration date. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Rather than determine the date of egg spoilage, expiration dates determine egg freshness. After eggs expire, they remain fresh for up to three weeks when refrigerated, according to the Georgia Egg Commission. After this period, the quality of the eggs diminishes. Eggs may acquire a bad flavor. Or they may lose the ability to optimally perform cooking functions such as helping baked goods rise and holding their shape when cracked.

About Expiration Dates

The federal government doesn’t require egg producers to stamp an expiration date on eggs or egg cartons. Individual states determine the requirements for egg expiration dates, according to the USDA. The USDA does, however, determine expiration dates on eggs that use USDA grades. Cartons for these eggs must display a three-digit code that shows the day of the year (January 2nd for example would be 002) that the eggs were packed. The expiration date for these can’t be more than 45 days from the pack date.

Storage Time

Instead of storing eggs on the refrigerator door, the American Dietetic Association recommends that people store their eggs inside the refrigerator and away from potential drafts. Eggs maintain quality longer when kept at temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, low temperatures slow moisture and carbon dioxide loss. Low temperatures also prevent the accumulation of potentially dangerous bacteria. When stored correctly, rotten eggs rarely occur, according to the Georgia Egg Commission. Eggs, however, may evaporate on the inside.

Alternative Egg Storage

Expired, older eggs may not be considered fresh but they’re not useless. The Georgia Egg Commission notes that it’s easier to peel hard-boiled older eggs. Hard-boiled eggs typically last around a week in the refrigerator. Freezing eggs can also extend usability. The American Dietetic Association suggests slighting beating the eggs then placing them in freezer-safer containers. Frozen eggs will last up to a year at temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.


Despite the expiration dates, consumers should avoid eating foods made with raw eggs. Young children, the elderly and people with an impaired immune system are more at risk of developing a bacterial infection when exposed to bacteria such as salmonella, according to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Common foods that contain raw eggs as an ingredient include cookie dough, homemade mayonnaise and Caesar salad. The American Dietetic Association recommends substituting raw eggs with a liquid pasteurized egg substitute to avoid potential reactions.

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