Are you sure you know how old those store-bought eggs are? Well, they may not be as fresh as you think. This insane fact about how old those eggs actually are has gone viral this week.
According to the Food And Drug Administration, stores can still sell food that has gone past its “best by” date (with the exception of baby formula). It’s completely up to the manufacturer whether the expired food gets pulled from store shelves or not. And that includes eggs.
When it comes to eggs, the Food and Drug Administration requires egg manufacturers to label their products with the product name, manufacturer’s name, official identification, the manufacturer’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval number, an ingredients statement, a net weight statement, and finally, the product’s nutrition information.
One label you might see on your eggs is a stamp from with a number between 1 and 365 below the “best by” date. According to Cosmopolitan, this is a voluntary label that represents which day of the year those eggs were put in to their carton for sale. So, how do you tell how old those eggs in your carton are?
The website Fresh Eggs Daily recently revealed in a Facebook post that has now gone viral that those numbers under the “best by” stamp reveal the real age of those store-bought eggs. To determine how old those eggs are, simply look at the number under the “best by” stamp – that number, called the Julian Date, tells you the day of the year your eggs were laid.
For example, if that stamp is “359,” you know your eggs were laid in the 265th day of the year, or on December 25. By that logic, the eggs you buy on January 25, 2016 might be 30-days-old.
But then, they might not. According to Fresh Eggs Daily owner, Lisa Steele, although sometimes eggs are packed for consumers within one to two days after laying, but sometimes it can take a bit longer. Steele says consumers should “realize it could be up to another 30 days before the date on the carton,” and recommends buyers should “get in the practice of checking carton dates and codes and at least choose those eggs that are the freshest.”
However, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, even though they’re old eggs, they’re still likely safe to eat. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln reports that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) confirms that “you can still store fresh shell eggs in their cartons in the refrigerator for four to five weeks beyond this date.”
But you should also know that because temperature is one of the most important factors to control the growth of bacteria in food, both the Food And Drug Administration and the USDA have issued laws regarding the safe handling, transport, and storage of the eggs you buy in the store. According to the Food And Drug Administration, “[m]any types of pathogens and spoilage bacteria are prevented from multiplying in properly refrigerated foods that are not out of date.”
Currently, the Food And Drug Administration requires all shelled eggs that will eventually be sold to consumers to be stored and transported at 45 degrees. Additionally, federal regulations also require retailers, like your local grocery store, to keep those same eggs refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Not only that, but according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, when eggs are refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, they should be good to eat for an additional four to five weeks beyond the date they were packed in the carton. Because of this, regardless of what the “best by” label might indicate, you probably have another week or so to use the eggs before they go bad.
What do you think? Will you start checking the Julian dates on your eggs from now on? Leave a comment below!
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]