What The ‘Best By’ Date On Egg Cartons Really Means

Do you know how long the eggs at your local supermarket have been sitting on the shelf? Fresh Eggs Daily recently posted controversial post to Facebook explaining how the average grocery store egg might be at least 45 days old by the time it reaches stores shelves.

“EVERY date I saw on them was between 352-355, meaning that those eggs were put in that carton on the 352nd-355th day of last year,” says the post from Eggs Daily, who posted the information on January 19th.”Add to that the 19 days so far this year, and these eggs have all been in the carton for about a month (and could have been laid up to 30 days prior to that) and check out the Sell by dates — these eggs can still sit on the shelf for a few more weeks.”

Apparently, the date stamped on egg cartons includes a number which is called the Julian Date. It’s located near the “Best By” date stamp. It marks the day of the year the the eggs were placed in the carton. For example, if the label contains the number 359, then the eggs were packaged on December 25. Therefore, January 1st would be 1 and December 31st would be 365. Using the code, you can tell when the eggs were first placed in the carton.

It may sound alarming at first, but what many people don’t realize is that eggs have an incredibly long shelf life. They can last up to several months in the fridge. In fact, eggs actually don’t even have to be refrigerated initially IF they have not been washed/scrubbed commercially.

In America, eggs are refrigerated because of the factory farming practices. The USDA requires that an egg be power-washed because many factory farm chickens carry salmonella. This washing process removes the natural layer of protection that an egg has when it is laid.

Without this natural layer, contamination can leak in through the tiny pores of the egg shell, so commercial eggs are coated with a thin layer of oil to substitute the egg’s natural protection and to keep it from drying out.

Some homesteaders say that they can leave their farm fresh eggs out of the fridge for around a week before they refrigerate them. Of course, refrigeration is always the safest way to ensure eggs don’t become contaminated, as it is difficult to be certain that the chickens laying eggs are completely free from salmonella.

Why the information about the Julian Date on your store bought eggs is useful is that it will help you pick the freshest eggs on the shelf.

If you are wondering how to tell if your eggs are still fresh there’s a handy trick that will tell you. All you have to do is put them in a cup with water above the egg. If the egg floats to the surface, it’s old and gone bad. If it stays on the bottom of the cup, or tilts up on its side, it’s fine.


Source: Tumblr

Here’s a video from J&J Acres goes to their local supermarket to check out the julian dates on packaging in more depth.

Share this useful information with your friends who like to buy the freshest possible groceries!

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links.