Eating unrefrigerated eggs can increase your risk of foodborne illness. However, whether or not the eggs are still safe to eat depends on how long they have been unrefrigerated and how they have been stored.
Can I eat eggs that have been left out overnight?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), eggs should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. If eggs are left out overnight (more than 12-16 hours), there is an increased risk that bacteria, such as salmonella, could start multiplying to dangerous levels.
Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning from eggs in the US. If you eat eggs that have been contaminated with salmonella, you may experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea within 12-72 hours after consumption.
The longer eggs are left at room temperature, the greater the risk of bacterial growth. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, so leaving eggs out overnight creates optimal conditions for bacterial multiplication.
For this reason, the USDA recommends throwing away eggs that have been left out at room temperature overnight.
What if the eggs feel cold to the touch?
Even if eggs that have been left out overnight still feel cold to the touch, it does not necessarily mean they are safe to eat. Bacteria can still multiply rapidly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F.
So although the eggs may still feel cold after sitting out all night, the interior temperature of the eggs could be in the danger zone for bacterial growth. Only a thermometer can accurately determine the internal temperature of eggs.
Bottom line – if eggs have been left out at room temperature overnight, it is best to throw them away regardless of how cold they still feel.
What if the eggs look and smell normal?
Salmonella and other bacteria that can be present in eggs do not usually cause any noticeable changes. Eggs contaminated with bacteria can look, smell, and taste completely normal.
So even if eggs left out overnight still look and smell normal, harmful pathogens could be present and actively multiplying. Do not rely on appearance or odor alone to determine if eggs are still safe to eat after being unrefrigerated.
When in doubt, it is always best to throw eggs out if they have been left at room temperature overnight or longer.
What if the eggs are hard boiled?
Hard boiled eggs have a slightly longer shelf life than raw eggs when unrefrigerated. However, they should still be discarded if left out all night.
According to the USDA, hard boiled eggs can be safely left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After that time, any remaining hard boiled eggs should be discarded.
The protein in hard boiled eggs provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth once the eggs are peeled. And while the cooking process kills any bacteria originally present in or on the raw egg, it does not prevent bacterial contamination after cooking.
For this reason, hard boiled eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking and discarded if left out overnight.
What increases the risks of eating unrefrigerated eggs?
Certain factors can increase the chances of foodborne illness from eating eggs that have been unrefrigerated:
- High temperatures – Eggs left out overnight in a very warm room are more likely to have significant bacterial growth than eggs left out in a cooler environment.
- Longer duration – The longer eggs are left out unrefrigerated, the greater the risks. Eggs left out for many hours have a higher risk than those left out for a shorter time period.
- Compromised shells – Cracked or damaged shells can allow bacteria to enter the egg more easily. Always discard cracked eggs.
- Dirty shells – Eggs with dirt, fecal matter, or other contamination on the shell have higher risks of harboring bacteria.
To minimize risks, eggs should always be refrigerated promptly after purchase and handled carefully to prevent cracks.
Can you get food poisoning immediately from bad eggs?
No, food poisoning symptoms do not set in immediately after eating contaminated eggs. There is always an incubation period.
For salmonella specifically, symptoms typically begin 6-48 hours after ingesting bad eggs and last for 4-7 days. Other types of foodborne illnesses may have different incubation times.
So if you eat bad eggs, you likely won’t experience any negative effects right away. Symptoms will start hours later and may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and other gastrointestinal issues.
In severe cases, bad eggs can even cause life-threatening dehydration and require hospitalization. Seek medical care if symptoms persist or become severe.
Can you get sick from eating eggs that have been left out for a day?
Yes, there is a risk of food poisoning from eating eggs that have been left out at room temperature for over 2 hours. The risks increase the longer the eggs have been unrefrigerated.
After a full day unrefrigerated, eggs could potentially contain dangerous levels of bacteria like salmonella. Consuming them could lead to symptoms of foodborne illness within 6-48 hours.
To avoid getting sick, it is important to follow safe egg handling practices:
- Refrigerate eggs promptly after purchase
- Do not leave eggs out for more than 2 hours
- Cook eggs thoroughly until both yolks and whites are firm
- Discard any eggs that have been left out overnight
When in doubt, remember the 2 hour rule – throw eggs out if they have been at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Following proper handling and cooking guidelines can prevent illness from consuming bad eggs.
How long do hard boiled eggs last unrefrigerated?
According to the USDA, hard boiled eggs can be safely left out at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After that time, they should be refrigerated or discarded.
The proteins in hard boiled eggs provide an ideal environment for bacterial growth when left unrefrigerated for too long. Some key timelines for hard boiled eggs:
- 2 hours – Maximum time hard boiled eggs can be left out at room temperature before refrigeration
- 1 week – How long hard boiled eggs last when refrigerated
- 10 days – How long hard boiled eggs last when refrigerated and unpeeled
So hard boiled eggs should always be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. Those refrigerated in their shells can last up to 1 week, while unpeeled eggs can last up to 10 days when properly stored.
But any hard boiled eggs left out overnight or longer should be discarded, as bacteria can still multiply despite the eggs being cooked. Don’t take risks with unrefrigerated hard boiled eggs.
Can you get food poisoning from week old boiled eggs?
Yes, it is possible to get food poisoning from hard boiled eggs that are a week old, depending on how they were handled and stored.
Hard boiled eggs only last 1 week when properly refrigerated. Beyond that time frame, harmful bacteria like Bacillus cereus can start multiplying and produce toxins that cause illness.
Foodborne illness is more likely from week old hard boiled eggs if they have been:
- Left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours before refrigerating
- Stored in the door of the refrigerator, which may not be cold enough
- Kept past 1 week even when refrigerated
- Peeled, since the shell helps block bacterial contamination
To avoid food poisoning, hard boiled eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking, stored in the main refrigerator compartment, eaten within a week, and peeled right before eating.
Following proper storage guidelines helps reduce the risk of bacterial growth. But when in doubt, throw week old hard boiled eggs out instead of taking a chance with foodborne illness.
Can 5 day old hard boiled eggs make you sick?
Yes, hard boiled eggs that are 5 days old can potentially make you sick, even if they have been refrigerated.
According to the USDA, hard boiled eggs should only be kept for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. After that time period, they are more prone to bacterial growth and foodborne illness.
Hard boiled eggs around 5 days old may look and smell normal, but can still harbor dangerous pathogens like Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus.
These bacteria can multiply faster on peeled hard boiled eggs stored in the refrigerator for 5 days or more. And while cooking the eggs kills bacteria initially present, it does not prevent bacterial contamination after boiling.
Consuming 5 day old hard boiled eggs that have been improperly stored or handled could result in food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
To minimize your risk, eat hard boiled eggs within 5 days of cooking. Follow proper refrigeration guidelines and discard peeled eggs after just a few days. Don’t take a chance with old hard boiled eggs.
Do old hard boiled eggs smell when bad?
Hard boiled eggs that have gone bad can develop an unpleasant odor, but they do not always smell when spoiled.
Some key things to know about the smell of rotten hard boiled eggs:
- They can harbor bacteria and be unsafe to eat without emitting a foul smell.
- The older they get, the more likely a rotten scent develops.
- A bad sulfur or rotten egg smell is a definite sign they have spoiled.
- Cooking initially eliminates any odors, so newly boiled then spoiled eggs may have no scent.
- Refrigeration can slow the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Do not rely on smell alone to determine if hard boiled eggs have spoiled. The safest bet is to discard any unpeeled hard boiled eggs after 10 days refrigerated, and peeled eggs after just a few days.
Following proper storage times and checking for signs of slime or discoloration can help avoid foodborne illness from old eggs that don’t smell. When in doubt, throw them out.
What are the risks of eating expired eggs?
There are a few risks associated with consuming expired eggs:
- Foodborne illness – Over time, eggs can become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria like salmonella leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if the expired eggs are eaten.
- Changes in flavor/texture – As eggs age, the whites thin out and the yolks flatten. The yolk’s membrane also weakens allowing it to break more easily. These changes affect the mouthfeel.
- Diminished nutritional value – Nutrients in eggs like folate and vitamin D degrade over time. Expired eggs retain less of their original nutritional content.
- Higher likelihood of spoilage – Outdated eggs are more prone to faster rotting and foster more rapid bacterial growth when broken open and exposed to air.
While expired eggs may not make you sick right away, their declining freshness and nutritional quality mean they should be discarded once past their sell by date. Relying more on sight and smell rather than just the date can further minimize risks.
How long do eggs last after sell by date?
Eggs can typically last 3-5 weeks after their sell by date if refrigerated, but this depends on how fresh they were when purchased.
The key determining factors include:
- Sell by date – Indicates peak freshness, not when they expire. Eggs are usually good for 3-5 weeks after this date.
- Purchase date – Fresher eggs at purchase last longer. Older eggs have a shorter post-date shelf life.
- Refrigeration method – Proper constant refrigeration extends shelf life after the sell by date.
- Visual and smell inspections – Candling eggs and sniffing for odor helps determine edibility beyond the date.
For maximum freshness and food safety, use eggs within 3-5 weeks of purchase and by the sell by date. Discard eggs if they give off an odor, appear slimy, or float in water as these are signs of spoilage. Following proper storage methods can extend the shelf life of eggs past their sell by date.
Eating unrefrigerated eggs comes with an increased risk of foodborne illness. Bacteria like salmonella can quickly multiply to dangerous levels in eggs left out more than 2 hours. Refrigeration, cooking eggs thoroughly, and avoiding prolonged room temperature exposure reduces this risk. But when in doubt, it is always better to be safe and discard eggs that have been left out overnight or are past their sell by date. While the sight, smell or feel of eggs may seem normal, harmful pathogens could still be lurking and lead to hours of miserable sickness after consumption. Following safe handling guidelines and never taking chances with unrefrigerated, old, or questionable eggs makes enjoying your breakfast worry-free.