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Can You Risk Eating Eggs Past Their Prime?

Eggs are not usually on the list of shopping items you buy in bulk. After all, they require refrigeration and have a set date printed on the back of the carton, both of which are signs of a quickly perishing food item. The reality is, that date likely denotes something very different from what you think, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use up the carton of eggs, even if they’re past their prime.

What does the stamped date mean?

Eggs Storage and Expiration carton of eggs

The date you see on a carton of eggs can mean a few different things. A sell-by date is a date by which a grocery store can sell the eggs. Confusingly enough, it is often marked as EXP. Remember that this date is NOT an indication that the eggs are spoiled. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Egg Safety Center, eggs remain fresh many weeks after the date that appears on the package.

How do I know if the eggs are still safe to eat?

As a general rule, a carton of eggs will remain fresh 4-5 weeks after the packaging date. This date is a three-digit number called the “Julian date” that always appears next to the sell-by date or the expiration date, and it’s a much better indication of the freshness of the eggs. The number corresponds to the number of a day in a calendar year from 1 to 365. For example, if the eggs were put into the carton on January 5, the number is 005, and if they were packed on December 30, the number will be 364.

Eggs Storage and Expiration egg freshness test

There’s also a trick that can help you determine if an egg is still good to eat. All you have to do is place the egg in a bowl filled with cold water. If the egg sinks to the bottom or hovers near the bottom, it's very fresh. But if it floats all the way to the top, it’s time to get rid of it.

Storage matters

Sometimes, eggs can spoil faster than their date. This is usually due to inadequate storage conditions. You should store eggs refrigerated at 45°F (7°C) or lower. We also recommend leaving eggs in the container, as it will prevent them from absorbing fridge smells and flavors and will keep them fresh for longer.

Please discard all eggs that smell bad. If the eggs look cloudy or unusual, no matter how fresh they are, throw them away immediately. But don’t be afraid of blood spots - these are actually a normal occurrence and are safe to eat.

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