Chickens lay eggs, everyone knows this. Then they are packaged and sent to the store where you buy them. All in the span of a few days! Amazing, right? Well it would be if it were true. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Below are a few facts about the egg laws you may not know, mainly because we never think to question it. We assume the FDA has our best interests at heart, but I’d sure be careful with that kind of thinking or you’ll be severely disappointed. Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily is a great expert and provided some very insightful info.
Not So Fun Facts...
- By law, an egg can be sold for up to 30 days after the date it was packaged
- Farmers have up to 30 days to go from when the egg is laid to the carton
- Eggs are up to 60 days old by the time they reach the grocery store
- The FDA doesn’t require an expiration date (although each state can have its own regulations)
It’s a little scary to think that the rules are so relaxed when it comes to eggs that we consume, especially for how common a food it is. In the U.S. the average person eats approximately 280 eggs per year. That averages to about 95 million dozen eggs a year! Want even more math? That’s over 1.14 BILLION eggs a year! Holy Yolks, Batman! That’s a lot of chickens laying a lot of eggs.
In our house we probably (or definitely!) eat more than that. My husband alone will eat half a dozen hardboiled eggs for a snack. When I make deviled eggs, my son will easily eat 4 or 5 eggs…to clarify that’s 8-10 halves. We’re a family of 4 but easily go through 2-3 dozen eggs a week…if I actually get around to cooking. Ha!
Since we eat so many eggs it really makes us feel so much better to know how fresh our eggs actually are, especially with the fairly lax rules on egg packaging/delivery time frames. So, if you’re not disturbed too much by the age of the grocery store eggs, I can try harder if you’d like. I have a couple of family members (who shall remain nameless) that either are or were truck drivers and both have told me some scary things about times they’ve hauled eggs in the past.
Unfortunately, I can’t share that info.
Just kidding, I wouldn’t leave you hangin’ like that. The first story was that egg shipments that were past the expiration date were just rerouted back to the factory and repackaged with new dates. Yes, seriously! So that could easily mean the eggs you’re eating are 90-120 days old. Yikes!
The other egg hauling story was probably even worse than the first. Eggs are shipped in refrigerated trucks due to regulations requiring the temperature be kept at 45° to safeguard against bacteria growth. Sounds great, right? Well as long as the refrigeration is kept ON the whole time. Kinda important! Apparently, refrigerated trucks make a lot of noise and after pulling off to hang out with some friends this driver decided to just shut the truck off for a few hours.
It’s ok though I’m sure no one died from bad eggs…I hope.
What’s the point? Well, mainly my point would be that we don’t know where any of our food comes from even with regulations in place to try to prevent contamination. But don’t get me started on that or I’ll never shut up!
How Do I Know How Fresh My Eggs Are?
Now you’re probably wondering ‘how would I check the freshness?’ Good question!
The float test is a great way to test the freshness. This picture shows how to tell the difference between a fresh egg and an old egg when placed in a bowl of water.
- A fresh egg lays flat on its side
- An older egg will start to tilt upwards as it ages
- An old/bad egg will float
Why does this test work? It’s actually pretty simple but effective!
In a fresh laid egg there is a very small air pocket, so it has little or no buoyancy allowing it to lay on its side. As the egg gets older, the air pocket becomes larger causing it to raise. When the air pocket gets to a certain size, the egg will float.
The smell test is another tried and true method. If you crack open the egg and it smells, it’s rotten. THROW IT AWAY!
Last one to the grocery store is a rotten egg…literally!
If you want fresh eggs your best bet is to buy from a farmers market or my favorite choice: get your own chickens! At least then you’d know where your eggs are coming from and how fresh they are. Nothing beats the taste of fresh eggs! Yummy!
Happy Homesteading & Stay Cuckoo!