Free Range Eggs

Everything You Need to Know About Egg Safety

By Nellie's Kindness Crew


You probably know by now that eggs should be refrigerated at 40F or below. And we can all agree that it's common sense to wash your hands before and after handling raw eggs. You've also heard time and time again that cooking eggs until the yolks are firm is recommended. But there's more to egg safety and handling than you may think. What do those numbers and letters on egg cartons mean? How do you know when an egg is still good? How do you spot a rotten egg? What happens if you leave your eggs out overnight? Have no fear: Nellie's has the answers to all your questions and egg safety conundrums.


How to tell if eggs are safe to eat

The most accurate way to tell if your Nellie's Free Range Eggs are safe to eat is to look for the date, which is printed on either end of our cartons. Our dates are considered "use by" or "best by" dates, which designate the day the eggs expire. In other words, we recommend consuming the eggs on or before the date printed on the carton; we never recommend eating the eggs once the date has passed. No date? The water test can help you determine whether dateless eggs are still fresh.

In addition to the use by date, you might see some other letters and numbers printed on our cartons. These codes help us keep track of the farms and batches that the eggs came from, as well as where and when they were packaged before arriving at your local grocery store.

How to tell if eggs have gone bad

Spoiled eggs are no fun, but luckily, they're easy to spot. When it comes to handling and storage, eggs are very temperamental: whether they're stored at the wrong temperature or suffer a fall, they can be compromised pretty quickly. When an egg goes bad before its use by date, it typically means that the egg was stored incorrectly or cracked at some point in its journey. When it doubt, look for these signs that an egg has gone bad:

Smelly eggs

Got a whiff of sulphur when you opened up the fridge this morning? That's a sure sign of rotten eggs. In some cases, you won't notice the smell until you crack open the egg, but it's typically hard to miss. Be aware that overcooked eggs also develop a sulphurous smell, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're spoiled. If you've ever hard-boiled an egg a bit too long and noticed a grey layer around the yolk, you're probably familiar with this smell.

Cracked eggs

If you ever open up your carton and spot a cracked or dented egg, throw it out. Cracked eggs are never safe to eat because they present an opportunity for bacteria to enter inside the egg, which can cause it to spoil in a matter of days. Hairline cracks are just as unsafe, but can be harder to detect. If you notice that an egg doesn't want to come out of the carton, it's possible that a hairline crack has allowed a little bit of egg white to leak out of the egg and adhere the shell to the carton. It's best to discard any "stuck" eggs, especially if you suspect a hairline crack.

Watery eggs

As eggs age, the whites and yolks lose some of their firmness and structure. It's not uncommon for expired or nearly expired eggs to seem somewhat watery when you crack them open, but if the egg is well within its best by date, wateriness can be a sign of spoilage. If you're unsure, look for yolks that break extremely easily and whites that spread rapidly across your pan rather than staying put.

Eggs with dark spots

It's completely normal to see brown or red spots floating in the egg white or on the yolk; these are known as blood spots. Dark spots that appear directly on the underside of the egg shell, however, are a sign of mold. If you suspect that a dark spot is mold, discard the egg.

How to handle and store eggs safely

Like meat or dairy, eggs are not shelf stable and therefore must be refrigerated. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) recommends keeping eggs at 40F or below, which is outside of the danger zone for bacterial growth. Seems pretty straightforward, no? If you still have questions, check out our answers below:

I left my eggs out. Are they still safe to eat?

Better safe than sorry. We recommend discarding eggs that were left out longer than 2 hours at normal room temperature or more than 1 hour at 85F or above. If you forgot your eggs in the car or the garage overnight, it's best to toss them; you never know how much the temperature fluctuated during that time period.

How long do leftover eggs last?

The FDA recommends consuming refrigerated dishes containing eggs within 3-4 days of making them. Hard-boiled eggs should be consumed within 7 days, shell or no shell. Things like scrambled eggs and omelettes can technically be refrigerated, but these simpler dishes tend to develop an unappetizing texture when cooled and reheated. You're better off eating your breakfast fresh from the stovetop.

Can eggs be frozen?

Yes, eggs can be frozen! If you find yourself with more eggs than you know what to do with or a dozen that you don't think you'll finish before they expire, use these tips to safely freeze them without compromising texture or flavor.

Why do some countries not refrigerate eggs?

The USDA requires all commercial egg producers to wash their eggs before packaging them. At Nellie's Free Range, we use a light soap and mild chlorine solution to sanitize our egg shells. Unfortunately, this process removes the natural outer layer of the egg shell called the cuticle, which renders the egg shell porous and therefore susceptible to bacteria. Regulations look very different in many European countries, where eggs are not washed before arriving at grocery stores. Since these unwashed eggs still have the protective cuticle intact, it's common practice to store them on the counter rather than in the refrigerator.


RoniSeptember 14, 2023

What should you do if you accidentally ate a moldy egg?


Hi Roni, we're so sorry for this unfortunate experience! We'd be happy to chat with you in more detail if you wouldn't mind emailing us! [email protected]

Traci PerrottaApril 28, 2023

I am sure if anything it’s too late but I just mad egg salad out of a fresh bag of HBE and the usual egg smell was replace by an oil smell not cooking oil but motor oil. I figured it was just me but after mixing in all the extra stuff they still tasted like the smell of oil/axle grease. I still was hoping my taste and smell were off so my Mom ate the sandwich anyways and being 95 she said it tasted funny but ate anyways. The exp date May 17 upc 8 15652 00007 6


Hi Traci, we're so sorry for this unfortunate experience with our HB eggs! If you wouldn't mind emailing us, we can assist you further with this matter: [email protected]

theresa bondFebruary 08, 2023

the shell on Nellies eggs was not clean. There were feathers stuck to the shells. It was disgusting.


Oh dear! Please email us at kin[email protected] so we can look into this matter!

Sandy BFebruary 04, 2023

I just purchased a carton of eggs through Kroger’s click list. After receiving the package there is no expiration date on it and one egg is missing.


Hi Sandy, we're so sorry to hear this. This carton definitely doesn't sound like it's up to our usual quality standards. If you don't mind sending us an email, we'd love to send you a coupon to replace this carton: kindnes[email protected], we look forward to hearing from you!

Sandra WalkinSeptember 28, 2022

I boiled some Nellies eggs in vinegar and water. When done, the outer brown shell was a film that I washed off with a lighter hard shell underneath. Do you dip your eggs in something that interacts with the vinegar?


Hello Sandra, it could be that the eggs were cooked in vinegar. When any breed of hen begins to form an egg, it always starts out as a white egg. The addition of pigment (color) to the protective outer shell of the egg is the last step of the egg formation processes. This layer is calcium based and alkaline. Vinegar is a weak acid, so if eggs are boiled in acidic water, it can soften the pigment layer of the shell. Sometimes you may see this happen to some eggs and not others depending on the amount of vinegar used, the amount of pigment making up the outer layer of the shell, or other variables. Depending on the base pH of your water, this can also occasionally happen even without the addition of any salt or vinegar. At any rate, we apologize for any alarm this may have caused and hope we have helped explain what you noticed. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions.

Mike DowlingAugust 10, 2022

Where can I find the “Best By” date on my 6-pk sealed package of your delicious Hard-Boiled eggs?


Hi Mike, thank you for reaching out. We've noticed that our hard boiled eggs are typically stamped with a computerized date stamp on the back of the bag, near where "Distributed By" is listed, on the left hand side. If you're not seeing it, please feel free to send us an email and we're happy to help. Thanks!

S. LuckanMay 30, 2022

I purchased Nellie's Free Range Eggs (brown) at Shop Rite in Maryland. The use by only shows Jun 22, no day. The lot info is 21:22 P172 129 84. How long are these eggs "good", since the month of Jun 22 contains several weeks? Thank you.


Hello! Thank you for the question. Typically we don't put a year on our eggs because we hope that our consumers won't keep them for a year. Typically it's a 45 days window when eggs are packaged until the USDA mandated use by date. We recommend that the eggs be used by the date on the carton, but we do have some egg freshness tips available here on our website which may help you decide if you'd like to use them past the date. Please let us know if we can answer any additional questions for you!

Jeannie Angela LopezDecember 08, 2021

Egglands Best r good & guaranteed 3 weeks after expiration. So I wanted to ask if by chance Nellie's r the same? Always Free Range. We Love ur eggs, But if we do not chk Target sells too many products after exp dates. 🤔🤔


Hi Jeannie, while eggs may be good after their use by date, we can't guarantee how long they may last after the date has passed. Storage conditions can vary. If you're finding some short shelf dates, we'd be happy to check with your local store if you'd like to send us an email to: [email protected] Thanks!

OwenNovember 24, 2021

What is the underside of the eggs shell, is this the part touching the container or the inside of the shell? Do you mean a dark spot that can develop where an uncooked eggs is left in a dish is a sign of mould, I thought that this was condensation or similar.


Hi Owen! If you see a dark spot on the outer part of the shell, it's a sign that mold is starting and the egg is no longer good to eat. Conversely, if you DO crack open the egg and find it to be overly dark, definitely do not eat that either! Hope this helps!

BenNovember 15, 2021

Can your eggs be eaten raw?


Hey there Ben, our eggs aren't pasteurized so unfortunately we can't recommend that you eat them raw.

BriOctober 17, 2021

Are your eggs pasteurized? I don't see it listed on the package.


Our eggs are not pasteurized, but If you’re interested in using our eggs in a recipe that requires them to remain in raw form, we recommend trying this at-home pasteurization method: We hope this helps!

KenJanuary 22, 2021

Other than the advantage of not needing refrigeration, what are the pros and cons of leaving the cuticle intact on egg shells?


Hi Ken! We're required to wash our shells per USDA guidelines. In other countries, it is not required. While we're unsure of all of the pros and cons, one con to having the bloom left on the egg and then with refrigeration, the egg could cause mildew growth and contamination. One con is that eggs with the cuticle in tact tend to last a bit longer. Unfortunately we must wash them due to these guidelines set forth.

Beverly GalatasJanuary 22, 2021

This was so informative. I learned a lot by reading through you information regarding how to tell if an egg is fresh to how to freeze eggs. Thank you so much for sharing.


Hi Beverly! We're so glad to hear that you found the information useful. Thanks for checking out our website!

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