Eggs stored in a refrigerator at 45 °F or below are safe to consume for up to 45 days after they are packed. After 45 days, the quality deterioration could make eggs susceptible to pathogenic growth and potentially become unsafe to eat. Because of this longish hold time, we can easily forget when the eggs were purchased and start to question their safety and quality.
Eggs produced in a USDA-inspected facility have a grade shield on the outer carton. The shield has a letter corresponding to the eggs’ quality. They are:
- USDA Grade AA – The freshest and highest quality eggs will receive a Grade AA.
- USDA Grade A – Very high-quality eggs will receive a
- Grade A.
- USDA Grade B – Grade B eggs are usually used for breaking stock (liquid eggs) and baking, depending on the number of defects.
Eggs that display the USDA grade shield and some non-USDA inspected egg manufacturers also include the pack date of the eggs on the outer carton. This may be listed in a Julian date, a three-digit number corresponding to the day of the year, with 001 correlating to January 1 and 365 to December 31.
Eggs that are harvested and sold in South Carolina (except for eggs harvested and sold on the farm) must include a Packed-on date or expiration date.
An example of these dates can be seen in the following picture. The packed-on date is 124, which would be May 3, and the “Best By” date of June 17, 2022, is exactly 45 days from the packed-by date.
So, no worries if you can’t remember when you bought the eggs in your refrigerator. Just use the egg stamp pocket guide to find the packed-on date and add 45 calendar days. The eggs are good if you are still in that time frame. The quality may not be peak, but they will be safe to eat.
For more information, see HGIC 3507, Safe Handling of Eggs.