I have several cartons of eggs that have a date stamp but the date stamp does not say, sell by, expires by or best by. It's just a date. By the way the date is in the future so I know it is not a pack date of when the eggs were packed. If I knew that I would be OK.

What is the default if the date is just a future date? Should I assume it is an expiration date and it's time to toss them out after that or should I assume it is a best buy in which case it is good for another 2 weeks or so? I assume on eggs there is no such thing as best by because you need to know or be able to figure out when they will expire so you can toss them out.

The date appears as follows "May 29 11:45" 121 P1008 L6". I know you will be tempted to say pack date but May 29 is in the future. Should I eat them all by May 29 or do I have the standard 2 weeks after a sell by date?


1 Answer 1


In the US, the most important thing to look for on the carton is the number which shows the day of year that the eggs were packed. If the number is 1, that's January 1st. If it's 365, That's Dec 31st. In other countries the system may be different, so find out what system in your country indicates the pack date, if possible. Note: apparently some states in the US don't regulate this, so you would have to see what your state's protocol is, if not. All the good states do, and the others can go suck an egg.

Eggs last a very long time (a few months at least) properly refrigerated and are safe to eat long after the sell date. The egg will lose water, and the air bubble in the end of the egg will continue to grow, so if you put the egg in water and it floats, it's pretty old, but can generally still be eaten if the eggs is not crazy old.

The membranes will also thin over time, making the yolks easier to break if you're trying to separate them or use them for sunny-side up eggs, e.g. The whites will also thin and the thicker part of the whites won't be as pronounced from the thinner parts.

Some recipes actually call for aged eggs. Also note that in the US eggs are washed and the outer membrane is removed, so they must be refrigerated. In some other countries the outer membrane is left on and the eggs can be stored safely outside of the refrigerator.

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    Your numbering system is very territory-dependant. EU eggs have a 'best before date' in plain English stamped right on each egg itself. For instance the eggs I bought this week clearly say BB 05JUN
    – Tetsujin
    May 17, 2020 at 6:54
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    My apologies… "plain English, or the local language of your particular country within the EU"
    – Tetsujin
    May 17, 2020 at 11:13
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    Even in the US there is not a standard answer to the meaning of the dates on eggs, they are regulated at the state level, not federal. When I sold eggs in one state for instance, the rule was the eggs had to be graded and dated at the time of packing, with the date of packing + 28 days. No rule on how old the egg was at the date of packing, only that it had to be graded that day and older eggs would result in a potentially lower grade. I always packed within 48 hours, but there was not rule saying I needed to. Other states had various other rules including how old they could be.
    – dlb
    May 18, 2020 at 14:29
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    looking at the date provided by the OP I see a 121 in there - day 121 is March 21st this year, suggesting the eggs will be about 9 weeks post-packing when they reach the date stamped on the carton. May 18, 2020 at 14:57

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