How Long Can Eggs Go Unrefrigerated (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 Hours

Eggs are one of the most versatile food items. One can make an egg sandwich or even a cake with them. However, for eggs to stay fresh and edible, one should refrigerate them immediately after purchase. 

Since eggs are perishable, it is important to keep them in the refrigerator and prevent them from spoiling or going rotten. However, if the eggs have never been refrigerated before, it is okay to keep them on the counter. 

However, if the eggs have to be refrigerated to keep them safe from bacteria.

They’ll last in one’s fridge about 3-5 weeks before going bad.  

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How Long Can Eggs Go Unrefrigerated?

TypeDuration
Unrefrigerated eggs2 hours
Refrigerated eggs3-5 weeks

Unrefrigerated eggs can be dangerous as they may have been harvested from a chicken infected with Salmonella enteritidis. 

One should not consume unrefined eggs without first being thoroughly cooked to kill any possible salmonella bacteria left in the egg. 

If one is contaminated outside of the shell, clean it off right away with a mild detergent and running water before cooking the egg. If one’s hands are dirty, wash them before eating raw or lightly-cooked eggs. 

It is functional and safe for eggs to go unrefrigerated for up to 2 hours. This is common practice for restaurants, bakeries, and other food establishments that need large eggs. However, it’s not recommended to leave them out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

One can store eggs in the refrigerator if they’re well chilled before one puts them away – this prevents thermally shocking the egg white or yolk contents when placed into warmer temperatures after leaving the fridge. It also slows down any spoilage from lack of moisture since cold temps evaporate less water. 

Listed below are the benefits of refrigerating eggs and how to store them, whether or not they will still be good after storing for too long, etc.

  • Refrigeration seems to allow the albumen’s protective properties against oxidation and enzymes associated with spoilage to work better. 
  • The yolk also dilutes its fatty acids during storage in a refrigerator. This allows the egg proteins to stay stable longer.
  • Eggs should always be kept refrigerated if one plans to use them within one week or two weeks from the purchase date. 

Why Would Eggs Go Unrefrigerated For So Long?

The reason eggs can go unrefrigerated for a certain amount of time is that they are coated with a natural, protective layer. This layer is called the cuticle, and it seals the pores in the eggshell to prevent bacteria from entering. The cuticle also helps keep moisture in, so eggs can last for 2 hours if they aren’t refrigerated.

However, if an egg has been cracked or damaged, that’s when bacteria can enter and cause spoilage. Hence, always discard any eggs that have been damaged or are leaking fluid. 

Even if the eggs don’t look cracked and seem fine to eat, it’s still best to refrigerate them after a few days.

The eggs one refers to are most likely from a local farm and have not been washed in a chlorine bath. This is how commercial eggs are sanitized. 

Washing eggs in a chlorine bath kills bacteria on the eggshell, but it also removes the protective cuticle that shields the egg from bacteria and mold.

Since local eggs have not been washed in a chlorine bath, they will last longer than commercial eggs because they have this protective cuticle intact.

This is why refrigerating eggs is important as it extends the shelf life of the eggs. In addition, it increases these benefits by decreasing the amount of bacteria growth which prolongs the time until spoilage. 

Refrigerated eggs often last 3–5 weeks, giving a person fresh eggs every day. Therefore, make sure to store the eggs properly, especially if buying in bulk quantities.

Conclusion

Refrigeration is so successful in preventing bacteria from growing that, when combined with the egg’s protective shell and enzymes, refrigerated eggs seldom go rancid—as long as they have been handled and stored correctly.

However, egg quality deteriorates with time. This implies that the air pocket in an egg expands, and the yolk and white stiffness decrease.

Therefore, check whether packing containers for egg products or alternatives are properly sealed before purchasing. Then, bring eggs straight home and store them in their carton, keeping them as cold as possible in the fridge’s coldest part (not on the door) — at 40 degrees F or below.

References

  1. https://meridian.allenpress.com/jfp/article/61/3/350/167974/Salmonella-Penetration-through-Eggshell-Associated 
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsfa.4699 
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