Egg Safety Center

Egg Safety Q&A

Click here for answers to most often asked questions

Find Out The Facts About Avian Influenza and Eggs
In light of the current events overseas involving avian influenza, we want to take this opportunity to share some important facts about the virus and the measures in place to safeguard the U.S. egg supply. Armed with this knowledge, Americans can continue to enjoy eating eggs with the confidence that they are safe.

Making Sense of the Statistics
Eggs and Salmonella Enteritidis

Putting Risk Into Perspective
Know the statistics and facts about eggs.

Egg Handling and Safety
With proper care and handling, EGGS posses no greater risk than any other perishable food.

Also check out the Egg Safety Center


 What do egg carton dates mean?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that any egg-carton date be no more than 30 days after the eggs were packed.  However, as long as the 30-day limit is observed, states may set other rules and, in some cases, even individual retail stores may set their own standards.  To learn exactly how many days a “sell-by” or “expiration” date allows after packing, it’s best to ask your retailer.

You may, though, be able to tell how old your eggs are by checking a three-number code on the small side of the carton.  It’s a Julian date, with 001 representing January 1 and 365 standing for December 31.  This is the day the eggs were packed.  They’ll keep in your refrigerator at least 4 to 5 weeks after this date.  If you can’t find a Julian date, using your eggs within about 3 weeks or so of purchase allows for the possibility that your eggs may have been temporarily stored by the retailer before you bought them.


How can I tell if my eggs are fresh and safe to use?

The best way to judge freshness is to use the Julian date.  But, the major differences in older eggs relate merely to appearance.  As an egg ages, it takes in air and loses moisture and carbon dioxide.  This causes the white to thin out and spread, the yolk to flatten and the yolk membrane to weaken, making it more likely the yolk may break.  Older eggs may spread more in the pan when fried and more wisps of “angel hairs” in the water may be visible when they are poached.  It’s actually beneficial, though, to use slightly older eggs – refrigerated for a week to 10 days – for hard-cooking.  As the egg takes in air, the air cell between the shell and shell membranes grows, making it easier to peel.

Egg safety is not strongly related to age.  With modern candling and quality-control methods, “rotten” eggs are a thing of the past.  In today’s frost-free refrigerators, eggs are more likely to dry up than to “spoil”.  As for Salmonella, unless your eggs become cross-contaminated by another food in your refrigerator, refrigeration will not affect whether or not any bacteria are present.  If they are, they will not grow under refrigeration, but may at room temperature.  That’s one reason eggs should always be refrigerated.  Another is that refrigeration hinders the aging process.  In one day at room temperature, an egg can age as much as it would in a week in the refrigerator!