How Long After Use By Date Are Eggs Good (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 to 5 weeks

There are various sources of lean protein. Eggs are undoubtedly one of the best in this long list of sources. Adding eggs to the daily dietary routine can help boost your immunity as well as overall health. Although the versatility of eggs as an ingredient for cooking can never really be overestimated, they serve as good raw materials when baking or making homemade pasta

Much like most packaged food products, egg cartons are also sold with a printed ‘use by’ date. Some people misinterpret this as the expiration date of the eggs contained in the carton and tend to discard off the eggs as soon as this date is crossed.

How Long After Use By Date Are Eggs Good?

There are several myths about the ‘use by’ dates one can find on egg cartons. The dates printed on the egg cartons generally do not represent the expiration date of the product. This date is more appropriately called the ‘sell-by’ date for the product.

This date usually suggests the maximum time frame within which the store has to sell the carton of eggs to the customers. Thus, logically this implies that a store cannot sell an egg carton that has bypassed the printed sell-by date. However, when the carton is sold to a customer prior to the expiration of this date, the eggs inside the carton will remain viable for consumption for a period of 3 to 5 weeks.

It is important to note that the printed date signifies the freshness of the raw eggs. Thus, if you want to enjoy fresh eggs then stick by the printed date. However, this does not in any manner reflect negatively on the usability of the egg. Eggs inside the carton will still be safe for consumption. Cooking these eggs will not pose a threat to the individual’s health in any shape or form.

In most cases, eggs from a so-called expired cartoon can be consumed within at least 3 weeks after the use-by date has passed.  Generally, eggs can remain fresh for up to 5 weeks after the printed date on the carton has been crossed, if refrigerated. If the eggs are stored properly, then they can be used for a prolonged period of time. However, if there is clear negligence in storing them appropriately –like keeping them outside- then their shelf lives can be diminished.

In Summary:

Condition of StorageRemain Usable For
OutsideUp to 3 weeks after the use-by date
RefrigerationUp to 5 weeks after the use-by date

Why Are Eggs Good So Long After The Use By Date?

Eggs remain good for quite some time after the use-by date because this date- often called ‘a Julian date’- does not indicate the expiration date for the eggs in a carton. As stated earlier it is simply a sell-by date for stores. Moreover, the key to ensuring eggs remain viable for an extended time frame is in the method of storage used for the carton.

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If stored properly, eggs remain fresh and usable for up to 5 weeks. This usually means that the carton has to be kept in the refrigerator or the eggs need to be frozen. Eggs are highly prone to the growth of bacterial infections that, in turn, affect their usability as well as safety. Storing them in a cold environment helps slow down the process of this bacterial growth.

However, if they are kept outside or in a hot environment, then the chances of them going bad are much higher. In such cases, they may often last only a week or two after the use-by date. Using them after this period can increase your chances of contracting infections from the contaminated egg.

Moreover, there is a simple test used to determine the usability of an egg. Fill a glass with water and drop an egg from the carton into the glass. If the egg floats, it has gone bad. However, if the egg sinks, then it is still usable and fit for consumption. Apart from the float test, the smell test is also handy. A rotten egg will dispense off an unbearable stench that is similar to sulfur. If that’s the case, then the egg in question is definitely not safe for consumption.

Conclusion

Eggs tend to add a healthy touch to the diet of an individual. It is often recommended that at least one egg is consumed daily to maintain a healthy and fit body. Oftentimes there are myths associated with the consumption of eggs, like the printed use-by dates on the egg cartons.

Eggs from a carton can be consumed for up to 3 to 5 weeks after the printed use-by date has been bypassed. They remain safe for this duration despite the printed information on the packaged carton. The key, however, is to properly store them as this helps retain their freshness and usability.

References

  1. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01031
  2. https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2903/j.efsa.2014.3782

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