Here's What The ‘Best By’ Date On Egg Cartons Really Means

| by Sean Kelly
a carton of eggsa carton of eggs

Grocery shoppers often look at the “best by” date when picking certain food items out for purchase in order to determine the item’s freshness. When it comes to eggs, the “best by” date is many times the first thing a shopper looks for on a carton — interestingly enough, however, it’s not the best indicator of how fresh the eggs are.

According to Cosmopolitan, the “best by” date is not required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is rather decided by the manufacturer. When it comes to eggs, there’s a much more telling label to look for when determining their freshness.  

The label above or below the “best by” date is known as the Julian date, and marks the day that the eggs were packaged in the carton, according to LiftBump. The label is a three-digit number indicating the day in the year. If a carton is labeled 359, it was packaged on Dec. 25.

When refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, eggs are good for four to five weeks beyond the Julian date, reported UNL Food.

When shopping for eggs, pay attention to the Julian date. If the Julian date is more than 40 days old, try looking for a different carton.

Sources: LiftBump, UNL Food, Cosmopolitan / Photo credit: Wikipedia, LiftBump