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How To Identify Rotten Eggs And What Are The Dangers Of Eating Them?

Eggs are nutrient-dense food and a great source of protein, vitamin D and selenium, along with other essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B2, folate, phosphorus and calcium. Egg consumption is associated with many health benefits such as weight management, lower risk of degenerative diseases, improved bone health and a good immune system. [1]

Eggs are nutritious and economical and also need extra handling and proper storage. According to the CDC, though the inside of the eggs may appear to look normal, they may contain germs such as Salmonella that can make one sick when consumed raw or lightly cooked. Also, despite properly storing the eggs with a decent shelf life, they can spoil before the expiry date.

In this article, we will discuss how to identify rotten eggs and what are the dangers of eating them. Take a look

How To Identify Rotten Eggs?

Some of the best ways to identify rotten eggs are:

1. Checking the expiration date

It includes checking the expiration date of the carton of eggs before buying. This will give you an estimation of how long you can store them before they go bad. However, cartons with expiry dates are sold only in some parts of big cities and in most of the grocery shops, they are sold openly. Remember that refrigerated eggs can stay good for around 30-45 days while unrefrigerated eggs for around a week.

2. Float test

This is one of the easiest ways to identify whether the egg is fresh or not. To carry out the test, take a glass or bowl of cold water and put eggs in it. If the eggs float on the top, they have gone bad and must be discarded. If they sink to the button and lay flat on one side, they are fresh while if they sink and stand on one side, they are not fresh but are good to be consumed.

3. Visual and smell test

The visual and smell test can also say a lot about good or rotten eggs. If the shell of the eggs is cracked, powdery or slimy, it may indicate signs of rottenness. Also, if the colour of the albumin is pink, green, blue or black, instead of pure white, it must be discarded. Though smelling the eggs with the shell may not help identify their rottenness, after cracking them, if they smell pungent with a foul odour, they must be thrown out. [2]

Note: Sometimes, even the eggs that float on water are good to be consumed. It is better to crack them open and then perform the visual and smell test to find out whether they should be consumed or discarded. Also, the best way to consume eggs is to cook them thoroughly until their yolks are firm.

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What Are The Dangers Of Eating Rotten Eggs?

Sometimes, it is difficult to detect a rotten egg even after several tests. Consuming rotten eggs can make one sick and cause certain symptoms to develop within a few hours.

Some of the dangers of eating rotten eggs may include:

1. Bacillus cereus infection

Bacillus cereus infection is one of the food-borne diseases caused by a bacterium of the same name that belongs to the genus Bacillus. The infection easily spreads from its natural environment like soil and marine water to eggs and other food types such as spices, cereals, herbs and raw meat. Some of the symptoms of B.cereus infection may include: [3]

  • Watery diarrhoea, usually around 8-16 hours after ingestion of rotten eggs.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

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2. Salmonella infection

Salmonella infection due to eggs has been identified as a global health concern. The infection not only spreads due to the consumption of contaminated foods but also during the production process. A study has shown that foodborne salmonellosis is mainly caused due to two agents; Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteritidis. They cause Salmonella infection either by directly contaminating the reproductive tract of hens or indirectly by penetrating through the eggshells during food handling. [4]

Some of the symptoms of Salmonella infection may include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps

In people older than 65 years, with chronic diseases like diabetes, with immunodeficiency conditions like HIV or pregnant women, Salmonella infection can be life-threatening and may cause adverse outcomes.

3. Listeriosis

Listeriosis is another serious foodborne infection caused due to the gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. This bacterium, like Salmonella, can also cause a threat to human health and a challenge to food safety. Consumption of foods like rotten eggs, uncooked eggs or raw eggs can spread L. monocytogenes infection. [5]

The infection is known to cross the blood-brain barrier, maternal-fetal barrier and intestinal barrier. This may result in maternal-fetal infections along with other symptoms like:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Stiff neck
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle ache
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea and vomiting

How To Reduce Chances Of Infections Caused By Rotten Eggs?

  • Eggs collected from hens should be refrigerated as early as possible.
  • Avoid purchasing cracked eggs or those with powdered shells.
  • Before using eggs, perform the aforementioned tests to detect rotten eggs.
  • Refrigerated eggs must not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Hard-cooked eggs must be kept in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking and recommended to be used within a week.
  • Experts suggest cooking all eggs thoroughly until their albumin and yolk get firm.
  • Wash dishes and equipment with detergent and water that have come in contact with eggs.
  • It is good to consume egg dishes immediately after cooking.
  • Wash hands immediately after contact with raw eggs.
  • It is suggested to avoid tasting dough or batter that contains raw egg whites or eggs.
  • Consult a medical expert if you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms within a few hours of consumption of eggs.

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To Conclude

Eggs are protein-packed and good for human health. However, consuming it rotten by mistake can increase your chances of certain foodborne infections like Salmonella infection which could be life-threatening.

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