Most people wouldn’t knowingly leave a box of eggs in the car.
However, accidents do happen, and you may wonder if it’s safe to use eggs that were left out in the car.
So, what happens if you leave eggs in the car?
Safety Concerns About Leaving Eggs in The Car
Some foods keep surprisingly well at room temperature.
Meanwhile, food safety is seriously compromised when you leave other foods at room temperature, even if it’s just for a few hours.
So, you may naturally wonder which of these applies to eggs.
Eggs are perishable food. So they don’t hold up forever, especially when they are left in a car. This is because fresh eggs contain bacteria called salmonella, which causes food deterioration. These bacteria multiply rapidly in hot and humid conditions, which are common in a car.
However, a number of factors affect their shelf-life.
How soon they spoil will depend on the environment where they are kept.
Let’s look at what happens to those that are left out in a car.
7 Things that Happen to Eggs when They Are Left in A Car
Experts recommend storing eggs in the refrigerator or at temperatures below 40°F.
However, factors like the ambient temperature, humidity, and how long the eggs sat outside will affect the extent of the contamination.
You may have to consider these aspects to decide if it’s wise to keep or discard eggs that were in the car.
Let’s look at all the likely conditions.
1. Eggs Left in A Warm Car Can Grow Bacteria and Go Bad
Heat promotes bacteria growth. Though bacteria multiply at room temperature, their rate of proliferation increases when the ambient temperature is high.
So, salmonella and other bacteria will multiply fast and cause eggs to deteriorate.
Since cars are closed spaces, they tend to be warmer than the external environment.
If you park your vehicle in a warm location, the eggs you leave inside will spoil even faster.
Eggs shouldn’t be left in a warm car for more than two hours, or they will be unsafe to consume.
Eating such eggs can lead to serious problems.
2. Eggs Left in A Car in Cold Weather Will Usually Be Fine
As we already mentioned, temperature is one of the biggest factors affecting the shelf-life of perishable foods like eggs.
You may already know that food holds up longer in cold weather.
So it’s generally safer to leave food out for a while in cool weather than in warm weather.
If you accidentally leave eggs in a car during winter or when the temperature dips, they should be fine.
As long as the temperature is comparable to that of a refrigerator, the eggs will be fine.
In a consistently low-temperature environment, eggs can even hold up for several weeks.
However, it’s still not wise to leave them in a car for too long.
If the temperatures fluctuate even for short durations, the risk of food contamination increases.
So leaving the eggs outside for more than a few hours can be risky.
If the temperature changes while you are away, the eggs may get contaminated and make you sick.
When in doubt, always check the eggs before cooking or using them.
Here are some ways to ascertain whether they are safe or not:
- Place the eggs in a bowl of water. If they float, they have already gone bad. If they sink on their side, they are still usable. However, if they sink but stand upright, they have just started going bad.
- Try shaking the egg; if it doesn’t produce any sound, it’s good. However, if you hear a sloshing sound, it’s better to discard the egg.
3. Eggs Can Sweat when Left in A Car for Too Long
When eggs are left in a car for too long, water droplets form on their surface.
This effect is pronounced if the weather is warm and humid.
The condensation on the egg surface means that the eggs have started “sweating.”
The presence of such moisture indicates that the eggs are beginning to deteriorate.
Moisture will support bacteria growth and make the egg spoil faster.
Hence, it’s not wise to use eggs that have been left out in the car and have started sweating.
4. Eggs that Were Previously Refrigerated Will Spoil Faster
This happens if you buy your eggs from a supermarket or grocery store where they are stored in the refrigerator.
Cold eggs that were left overnight in the car at temperatures over 40°F are very unsafe for use.
Bacteria will have started growing inside, leading to contamination and spoilage.
The time it takes for the egg to spoil will depend on the ambient temperature.
However, to play it safe, we don’t recommend using the egg if it has been sitting out in the car for more than two hours.
5. Fresh Farm Eggs Will Usually Be Fine for Consumption
Store-bought eggs will spoil sooner when left outside because they were previously stored in a controlled and cool environment.
These eggs have also been subjected to a cleaning process that further reduces their shelf-life.
However, farm eggs don’t have such problems.
They are usually stored at room temperature and hold up better than refrigerated ones.
If you buy your eggs fresh from a farm and leave them out in the car overnight, they may still be safe to consume.
However, this will also depend on environmental conditions like temperature and humidity.
It’s generally unwise to consume eggs if the ambient temperature is more than 40°F and you have left them out for several hours.
6. Eggs Left Overnight Can End up Smelling Bad
Eggs that have gone bad develop a terrible smell. The longer you leave an egg outside, the more it stinks.
So, you can smell an egg to check if it has gone bad.
An egg that has gone bad will develop a distinct rotten smell like sulfuric acid.
You may be able to detect this smell even without cracking the shell.
However, sometimes the egg may not have spoilt entirely.
So, you may realize that it’s bad only after cracking it open.
In either case, discard the egg as it’s unsuitable for consumption.
7. Eggs Left in A Hot Car Spoil in Less than Two Hours
Extreme heat will accelerate the deterioration process of moisture-rich foods like eggs.
So, the situation changes if you leave your eggs out on a hot day.
Similarly, if the eggs were sitting out in a hot car, bacteria may already have affected them.
In hot environments, eggs will not hold up for even two hours.
Bacteria growth can begin in less than thirty minutes when the ambient temperature is high.
It can make eggs spoil rapidly. This applies to farm eggs too. They are also prone to spoil quickly in a hot environment.
When you leave eggs in the car on a hot day, they may be unsafe for consumption after half an hour.
It’s always advisable to check how they smell and try the floating and shaking tests before consuming them.