Leaving food in the car is a common mistake when you’re in a hurry. But what should you do if you left the eggs you’re supposed to make breakfast with in the car overnight?
Temperature fluctuations inside the car can increase the risk of bacterial contamination, so it’s probably best to throw them out.
Refrigerated eggs should be kept at 40° F. You can leave freshly laid eggs at room temperature.
What if it’s only been a few hours, or if you left the eggs in cold temperatures? Learn the answers to these questions and more below!
What to Do If You’ve Left Eggs in Your Car For a Few Hours
If you left eggs in your car and the temperature is close to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, your eggs are probably still safe to eat. However, they will degrade slower if the temperature is colder, and faster if the temperature is hotter.
A study was conducted to evaluate the internal and external qualities of freshly laid eggs. The researchers tracked three variables: weight loss percentage, Haugh unit (protein quality score), and specific gravity (a measurement of the thickness of eggs shells), as affected by storage time (days) and temperature (refrigeration versus room temperature).
The results were as follows:
Egg weight loss as affected by storage time and temperatures:
|Storage Time (days)||Temperature||% weight loss|
|7||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||0.8 | 1.2|
|14||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||1.5 | 2.3|
|21||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||2.5 | 3.4|
|28||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||3.8 | 4.5|
Haugh unit (HU)as affected by storage time and temperatures:
|Storage Time (days)||Temperature||Haugh unit (HU)|
|0||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||78 | 78|
|7||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||73 | 55|
|14||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||69 | 48|
|21||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||65 | 45|
|28||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||64 | 44|
Specific gravity as affected by storage time and temperatures:
|Storage Time (days)||Temperature||Haugh unit (HU)|
|0||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||1.083 | 1.083|
|7||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||1.082 | 1.075|
|14||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||1.075 | 1.065|
|21||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||1.068 | 1.063|
|28||39.2° F | 82.4° F – 87.8° F||1.065 | 1.062|
As the days go by, there was a higher percentage of weight loss, decreased Haugh units (HUs), and decreased specific gravity, all pointing to the degradation of the quality of eggs, especially at room temperature of 82.4° F to 87.8° F.
The study was done to evaluate the internal and external qualities of chicken eggs and not in relation to bacterial contamination. Researchers concluded that eggs can be stored at room temperature for 14 days and refrigerated for up to 28 days (source: Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment).
This research demonstrates that freshly laid eggs that have not been refrigerated can be stored at 82.4° F (28° C) to 87.8° F (31° C) for 14 days.
Eggs that have been refrigerated should stay refrigerated at 39.2° F (4° C). This should keep for up to 28 days.
What Happens if You Leave Eggs in Your Car Overnight?
The temperature in your car fluctuates, which can make your eggs unsafe.
If you bought fresh eggs, refrigerate them immediately at 40° F (4.4° C) or below. Make sure the area in the refrigerator where you will store the eggs is clean.
If you bought refrigerated eggs from the grocery, refrigerate them at the same temperature as soon as you get home. Don’t leave them out for more than two hours.
When eggs are laid, their temperature is 105 °F (40.6° C) (source: USDA). From there, the quality starts to deteriorate. This goes on for a few days, even if the eggs are refrigerated.
If you left them in your car, the eggs will lose their quality faster if the temperature inside is above 40° F (4.4° C). If the temperature inside is warm, the eggs could sweat, which might cause bacteria to enter through the pores of the shell, causing spoiling or contamination.
Moreover, if you left them with other food items such as meat, processed foods, fruits, or vegetables, the foods could contaminate each other. It would be best to throw it all out.
If You Left Eggs in a Hot Car (e.g. Summer)
As explained above, if the eggs you left in your car are fresh, they will be good and safe at 82.4° F (28° C) to 87.8° F (31° C) or room temperature. However, the temperature inside the car during summer can get really hot.
High temperatures can start denaturing the proteins in the egg (basically start cooking them) the wrong way. The eggs could be in the temperature danger zone of 40° F – 140° F, where bacteria will thrive.
The FDA advises not to leave cooked eggs for more than an hour if the temperature is above 90° F (32.2° C) (source: FDA).
If this happens, the best and safest thing to do is to get rid of the eggs.
If You Left Eggs in a Cold Car (e.g. Winter)
Eggs left in the car during winter may not be safe because they could freeze. According to the FDA and USDA, raw eggs shouldn’t be frozen in their shells. Only raw yolks and raw whites outside their shells can be frozen. Freezing has a detrimental effect on the qualities of egg yolks or whites.
Condensation could also form on the eggs, which causes sweating and may lead to contamination.
How to Check Eggs That Have Been in a Car
If you left your eggs in the car, take note of how long you left them and the temperature outside and in the car. Be sure to check the eggs and make sure they aren’t sweating or frozen. If you didn’t leave them very long and the temperature was not very hot or very cold, you can probably keep them.
We hope this article helps you decide whether or not to keep your eggs!