"Are eggs stamp a "best before date" or an "expiration date"?"

Danielle S.

Thunder Bay


Our Answer:

February 7, 2019
In the Kitchen

Egg Farmers of Ontario

Mississauga, Ontario | https://www.getcracking.ca

Is the date stamped on my egg carton a "best before" or an "expiry" date? Can I still use eggs for baking past a best before

 Hi Danielle,

Great question, many people wonder that same thing.

The best before date (28 to 42 days from the packaging date) on the carton indicates the length of time the eggs will maintain their Grade A quality. If kept refrigerated, they can be consumed up to one or two weeks after that date. However, they should be used in a thoroughly cooked dishes (baked, hard-boiled/hard-cooked or scrambled) rather than soft-poached or fried.

If you are still concerned about the safety of the egg past its best before date, we always suggest airing on the side of caution and not consuming it. 

Happy baking!

 

FAQ

How long can you use eggs after the best before date?

Eggs can often be safely used for up to 1-2 weeks after their best before date has passed. When deciding to use eggs past their best before date, follow these guidelines to ensure they are still safe to eat:

  • Ensure there are no cracks in the shell. Cracks in the shell provide an opportunity for bacteria to enter the egg, which can cause spoilage.
  • Ensure the eggs have been properly stored. To maintain their freshness, eggs should be stored in the body of the refrigerator in their original egg carton. Eggs should not spend more than 2 hours unrefrigerated as that can speed up bacteria growth.
  • Use eggs near their best before date in dishes that are cooked-through. 

Well-cooked egg dishes

If the eggs are close to their best before date, it is best to cook them thoroughly to help kill any bacteria in the egg. Try one of these well-cooked egg dishes:

Can you eat eggs 2 months out of the date on the carton?

The date on grocery store egg cartons is the best before date, which is typically 3-5 weeks after the eggs have left the farm. Although it is typically okay to eat eggs that are 1-2 weeks past their best before date, anything beyond that should be discarded due to the chance of the eggs having spoiled.

If you are looking for ways to make your eggs last longer, consider freezing your chicken eggs. Frozen egg whites and egg yolks can remain stored in the freezer for up to 4 months. For information about how to freeze eggs, read this guide.

What happens if you use eggs after the best before date?

Because of the standard of care on Canadian egg farms and the rigorous grading process eggs go through in Canada, in most cases, nothing will happen if you eat eggs 1-2 weeks after their best before date. If your eggs have spoiled by that time, it is most likely a result of poor food storage and handling.

To avoid improper storage, remember to do the following:

  • Keep your eggs in their original cartons;
  • Store eggs in the body of the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door;
  • Do not leave eggs on the counter for more than 2 hours;
  • Avoid eating cracked eggs that are past their expiration date.

For more information about proper food storage, read this guide.

How can you tell if your eggs have spoiled?

Some people believe that eggs with a fishy odour or taste are old eggs that have gone bad. In reality, a slight fishy odour alone is not an indicator of freshness because eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids which characteristically have a fishy smell. As a result, some farm fresh eggs may smell and taste a little fishy. 

For a more accurate assessment of egg freshness, it's recommended to rely on a combination of factors like an egg float test and sensory check.

Egg float test

  1. Fill a bowl with enough water to fully submerge an egg.
  2. Carefully place the egg into the bowl of water. Make sure the egg is completely submerged.
  3. Observe the egg's behaviour.

If the egg lays flat on the bottom of the bowl horizontally, it's usually a sign that the egg is fresh and safe to eat. If the egg stands upright on the bottom of the bowl but is slightly tilted, it's still okay to eat but might not be as fresh - which is a great time to make some hard-cooked eggs!. If the egg floats to the top or stands upright on the bottom but points upward, it's likely not fresh and may need to be discarded.

How the egg float test works

As eggs age, they naturally develop a larger air cell within the shell due to moisture and gasses gradually evaporating through the porous shell. This causes the egg to become less dense and makes it more buoyant, resulting in the egg either floating or standing upright in the water.

Remember that the egg float test is an indication of freshness but not an absolute determinant of spoilage. If you're uncertain about an egg's safety, consider also doing a sensory check.

Sensory check

Observe the appearance and smell of the eggs. If an egg looks or smells unusual, such as having an off-putting odour or an odd consistency, it's a sign that it might be spoiled and should be discarded.

Can eggs expire in the fridge?

Keeping your eggs between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius helps to slow the growth of bacteria, which is why food that is stored in the refrigerator typically keeps longer. However, refrigeration does not completely stop bacteria growth, which is why eggs kept in the fridge will eventually expire if not eaten.

To prevent bacteria growth, consume your eggs by the best before date or shortly after. If eggs are near or past their best before date, use them in well-cooked dishes or baked desserts. By doing so, you can enjoy your eggs safely and make the most of your groceries.

Do all eggs expire by the date on the carton?

No, not all eggs expire strictly based on the date printed on the carton. The date on the carton is typically labelled as the "sell-by" or "best before" date. This date serves as a guideline for stores to ensure they rotate their stock and offer customers the freshest eggs.

Eggs can still be safe to eat for a period of time after the sell-by date, as long as they have been properly stored and handled. 


Our answers are current as of the date they’re posted.

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