Almost everyone knows to look at “best by” dates when buying perishables. However, there are a vast differences in how manufacturers choose to label this date on packages, including “best used before,” “sell by” and “use by” dates. It is critical to understand these dates on some foods more than others.
Eggs happen to be one of those items. On egg cartons, there is generally a “best by” date, and many people are used to judging how old the eggs in the carton are by looking at that date. There is a better way to judge how old eggs are that is far more accurate but the method isn’t as quite as obvious as it should be.
Every carton of eggs has another number that is actually a better tool for determining how fresh the eggs in the carton are. This three-digit number is usually above or below the “best by” date, and it’s the number you should be watching.
That number, called the Julian date, indicates the very day the eggs were placed in the carton and the number simply indicates the consecutive days of the year. For example, Jan. 1 would appear as 001 and Dec. 31 would appear as 365.
The USDA breaks the numbers down in a chart on its website:
You can store fresh eggs in their cartons in a refrigerator for “four to five weeks beyond this date,” according to the University of Lincoln.
It is important to note that the “best by” date does not indicate freshness and the FDA doesn’t require egg producers to post it. In short, the “best by” date may not always tell the truth about how long the eggs are safe to consume, but the Julian date will. Be smart. Be safe.
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H/T Mad Word News