Properly handled and stored eggs stay fresh for weeks.
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Although a suspicious egg might look perfectly normal on the outside, the insides could be discolored, smelly and riddled with contamination if the egg is past its prime. Fortunately, it takes several weeks for the breakfast beauties to diminish in quality if they've been properly stored and handled since being hatched.
The United States Department of Agriculture requires all plants it inspects to print the plant number and pack date directly onto the egg carton. The pack date indicates the exact date the eggs were washed, graded and packaged in the carton. The date is given in three digits -- with January 1 as 001 and December 31 as 365. If the eggs were properly handled and stored after hatched, they should remain fresh and safe to eat for roughly four to five weeks after the pack date.
Sell By Date
Many egg cartons will also display a printed вЂњsell byвЂќ or вЂњbest if used byвЂќ date on the carton. Any eggs that have been inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture must have a вЂњsell byвЂќ date that does not exceed 30 days past the pack date. The eggs should remain fresh for at least two to three weeks after the вЂњsell byвЂќ date if properly refrigerated.
Store eggs in their original container at a refrigerator temperature of roughly 40 degrees F. Do not keep eggs in the refrigerator door; the frequent opening and closing could cause dangerous temperature fluctuations. Instead, store your eggs in the coldest area of your refrigerator. If you remove eggs from the refrigerator, make sure you cook them or return them to the fridge within two hours to prevent bacterial growth. If an egg shell cracks before you wish to use the egg, break the egg into an airtight container, refrigerate and use within two days.
Do not freeze whole eggs in the shell; they will burst open as the egg expands. If you wish to freeze eggs, break them open and beat them before freezing in an airtight container.
Carefully drop an egg into a deep bowl of water. Fresh eggs will immediately sink to the bottom and lie flat on one side at the bottom of the bowl. If the egg sinks to the bottom but remains upright, it's not quite as fresh, but it should still be safe to consume. Discard any eggs that float in the water without touching the bottom of the bowl; they are not fresh and should not be consumed.
If you don't have access to a bowl of water, carefully crack the egg onto a flat plate and take a peek at its appearance. Fresh eggs have a perky, round yolk that sits in the middle of thick, compact, cloudy whites. If the egg is old, you'll see thin whites that spread across the plate and flat yolks.
If the egg looks or smells unusual, don't eat it -- that's a simple, yet surefire way to keep yourself safe and healthy. Egg whites that change color to pink or green or become iridescent could indicate a dangerous contamination with Pseudomonas bacteria, according to the Egg Safety Center website. Additionally, black or green spots inside the egg yolk or white could indicate bacterial or fungal contamination.