Food Safety

How Long Can Eggs Sit Out?

If you accidentally leave eggs sitting out, you may be wondering if they are still safe to eat. In the U.S., eggs can sit out at room temperature for two hours before spoiling. However, if the temperature in the room is 90° F or higher, they will only last one hour outside the refrigerator.

What Happens to Eggs When They Are Left Out?

When eggs are left unrefrigerated for too long, they will begin to sweat, which can allow for the growth and movement of bacteria. Therefore, the inside of the eggs can become contaminated, and eggs are especially susceptible to a particular type of bacteria known as Salmonella. Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning can develop anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after ingesting and can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. In some cases, diarrhea can be severe enough to require hospitalization. Approximately 79,000 people become ill, and 30 people die each year from eggs contaminated with Salmonella, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Expiration Dates for Eggs

Type of Egg Room Temperature Refrigerated Frozen
Egg in Shell Under 2 hours Up to 5 weeks Do not freeze
Raw egg whites and yolk Under 2 hours 2 to 4 days 1 year
Pasteurized liquid eggs Under 2 hours Opened – 3 days

Unopened – 10 days

1 year
Hard boiled eggs Under 2 hours 1 week Not recommended
Cooked dishes containing eggs Under 2 hours Homemade – 2 to 3 days

Store-bought – 5 to 7 days

6 months
Drinks containing eggs (e.g., egg nog) Under 2 hours Homemade – 2 to 3 days

Store-bought – 5 to 7 days

6 months

How Do You Tell if Eggs are Spoiled?

Unfortunately, eggs are one of the harder foods to tell whether they have gone bad or not. However, there are a few reliable ways to figure it out.

Expiration Date

Check the carton for the “best before” or “sell by” date. These dates make it easier to know when the eggs are old. However, eggs can remain good past this date.

The Smell

Rotten eggs will emit a slight sulfur smell that warns you something is not right. If you’re still unsure, you can crack it to smell it better.

Test the Egg

Fill a bowl or glass with cold tap water and place an egg inside. If it sinks to the bottom or lays flat on one side, it is still fresh and good to eat. However, if the egg floats, it is because a large air cell formed at its base. That means the egg should be thrown out.

Egg Buying and Storage Tips

  • Buy grade A/AA or market fresh eggs and check their sell-by or best-before date.
  • Check the carton for any cracked eggs or ones with dirty shells.
  • If an egg unintentionally cracks, break it into an airtight container, then you can store it in the fridge for 2 days.
  • Pick up eggs last when at the grocery store, so they are not kept at room temperature for too long.
  • Store eggs in their original carton, to protect them from taking on odors from other foods in the fridge.

If you or a loved one became sick from eating contaminated eggs, you may be able to recover financial compensation. Contact a food safety lawyer in your area to help during a free consultation.

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