Eggs have been a staple food since ancient times, and they remain an important part of many modern diets. However, when it comes to cracked eggs, many people wonder if it is safe to eat them. In this article, we will investigate the topic and provide you with the verdict you need to know!
Why Do Eggs Crack?
Before we dive into the question of whether it is safe to eat cracked eggs, let’s first understand why eggs crack in the first place. Eggs crack for a variety of reasons, including:
- Pressure during egg laying: Sometimes, the pressure of laying an egg can cause it to crack.
- Mishandling during transportation: Eggs can be jostled and bumped during transportation, leading to cracks.
- Impact during storage: Eggs may be accidentally dropped or knocked against a hard surface, leading to cracks.
- Age: As an egg ages, its shell becomes thinner and more fragile, increasing the likelihood of cracking.
Is It Safe to Eat Cracked Eggs?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. The safety of eating a cracked egg depends on several factors:
The Extent of the Crack
If the crack is minor and only affects the outer layer of the shell, the egg is likely safe to eat. However, if the crack is deep and penetrates the inner membrane, the risk of bacterial contamination is much higher.
The Age of the Egg
As mentioned earlier, as an egg ages, its shell becomes thinner and more fragile. Therefore, a cracked egg that is also old is more likely to be unsafe to eat.
The Condition of the Egg
If the egg is clean and free of dirt, bacteria, and other contaminants, it is less likely to pose a health risk. However, if the egg is visibly dirty or has cracks that allow bacteria to enter, it should be discarded.
How to Tell if a Cracked Egg Is Safe to Eat?
If you do find a cracked egg in your carton, you can follow these steps to determine if it is safe to eat:
- Examine the entire egg, including the crack, and check for any signs of contamination such as dirt, blood, or discoloration.
- Sniff the egg. If it smells bad, discard it immediately.
- If the egg passes these two tests, crack it into a separate bowl and examine it for any abnormalities such as blood spots or unusual texture.
- If the egg passes all of these tests, it is likely safe to eat. However, if you have any doubts, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and discard the egg.
What Are the Risks of Eating a Cracked Egg?
The main concern with eating a cracked egg is the risk of bacterial contamination. When an egg is cracked, it allows bacteria to enter the egg, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. The most common bacteria found in cracked eggs is Salmonella, which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
How to Store Eggs Properly?
To minimize the risk of egg contamination and spoilage, it is important to store eggs properly:
- Keep eggs refrigerated at or below 40°F (4°C) to prevent bacterial growth.
- Store eggs in their original carton, which protects them from damage and helps to maintain their freshness.
- Do not store eggs in the door of the refrigerator, as this area experiences the most temperature fluctuations.
- Use eggs within 3-5 weeks of purchase to ensure their freshness.
In conclusion, whether it is safe to eat a cracked egg depends on several factors, including the extent of the crack, the age of the egg, and the condition of the egg. It is important to follow proper storage and handling practices to reduce the risk of egg contamination and spoilage. If you do come across a cracked egg, it is always best to err on the side of caution and discard it if you have any doubts about its safety.
Q: Can you get sick from eating a cracked egg?
A: Yes, eating a cracked egg can increase the risk of foodborne illness due to the potential for bacterial contamination.
Q: What bacteria can be found in cracked eggs?
A: The most common bacteria found in cracked eggs is Salmonella.
Q: How can you tell if a cracked egg is safe to eat?
A: Examine the entire egg, sniff it, and crack it into a separate bowl to check for any abnormalities such as blood spots or unusual texture.
Q: How should you store eggs?
A: Keep eggs refrigerated at or below 40°F (4°C), store them in their original carton, and use them within 3-5 weeks of purchase.
Q: Can you still use eggs that are past their expiration date?
A: It is not recommended to use eggs that are past their expiration date, as they may be unsafe to eat.
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). (2019, May 8). Egg Safety: What You Need to Know. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/food-safety/safe-food-handling-and-preparation/food-safety-basics/egg-safety
2. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. (n.d.). Cracked and Broken Eggs: Causes and Prevention. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/eggs/egg-harvesting-process/cracked-and-broken-eggs-causes-and-prevention
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, January 10). Salmonella. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html