Quintessential to the idea of homesteading is getting to have fresh eggs every single day. But if you’re going to the grocery store for your eggs, are they really as fresh as you think they are?
A few days ago, Lisa Steele, author of Fresh Eggs Daily, posted a picture (see the video below) to let her readers know about just how long an egg can actually sit on the shelves of grocery stores before somebody buys them. She suggested a startling idea – that eggs in the grocery store could be as old as 30 or 45 days!
We want to independently verify whether or not eggs really do sit on a shelf for 30-45 days before you get to take them home, so on January 20th, 2016, we headed out to the local supermarket to see what we could find.
If you’re out shopping for eggs, even though you want to have chickens at the house, then you’re probably looking for things that interest you. You’re looking for words like cage free and organic. The one shocking thing that we found, if you look at the code on the side of this container, you’re looking for 2 possibilities, either a date or a Julian code.
Confusing Carton Codes
On this container we happen to have both. The Julian code says 344. That means that the eggs were put into the package on day 344 out of a calendar year. It also says best by January 23, so we know that that is the date that the store expects for these eggs to come off the shelf. These eggs have been in a package for 41 days.
But we didn’t stop there. We went to 3 separate supermarket chains to see if it was the same situation everywhere we went and sure enough it was. We kept finding eggs that were 20, 30 days inside of their packaging. These are the eggs that you’re buying that are labeled as being farm fresh. Fresh eggs for you to take home to your family.
Do you think that eggs that have been in a package for 20 days are fresh eggs? I certainly don’t.
The Freshest Egg
One of our stops was at a very major supermarket. The kind of place that has to restock every single night. They had the freshest eggs that we found on any of our stops and they were packaged on Julian date 11, so here on the 20th these eggs are the freshest we found and they’re still over a week old, 9 days since these have been packaged.
Now don’t get us wrong, nobody is breaking the law here. The regulations say that once the eggs are inside the carton they have 30 days to be sold on the shelf, or if they’re labeled with a use by date, 45 days to be sold. So nobody’s breaking the rules, but it’s very misleading to say that those eggs are fresh eggs.
If the best a grocery store is going to get you is an egg that’s been in its package for already a week then maybe you need to rethink about where you’re getting your eggs from.
Buy Local or Bust
I guarantee you that if you find a local egg producer, a little family farm that’s selling eggs, buying a dozen eggs from them is going to mean the world to them. If you’re in a place where you can have your own chickens, then why not, instead of having eggs that are 45 days old, have an egg that’s only been there for 45 minutes or maybe even less and go out there and harvest your own eggs and provide for your family.
One thing we have not touched on is that the regulations only stipulate how long it has to be for the egg since it gets in the package to when it reaches the consumer. There’s no regulations that we can find that say anything about the time it takes to go from the chicken itself to reaching the package.
How long does it take for commercial growers to clean and sort and then package these eggs? We don’t know, but we found it interesting that amid all of the regulations, that seemed to be completely unmentioned.
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Many thanks to Lisa @ Fresh Eggs Daily for working with us on this project! Be sure to head over to her blog and check out all her amazing chicken related goodness!
Watch the Video