Recently, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services temporarily changed some of the rules about eggs. These changes are part of a statewide effort to make sure that grocery stores can keep enough of our staple foods in stock.
What are the changes you might see?
- Mixed egg sizes in your carton.
Eggs sold in grocery stores normally must be sorted into one of six sizes, ranging from pee wee to jumbo, as shown at this American Egg Board web page. The page also has a convenient egg-size substitution chart, which could be key if you’re following a recipe and discover that your carton of eggs contains a mix of small and extra-large eggs. Fun fact: eight small eggs equal five extra-large eggs.
- Variety of egg colors in your carton.
Most of the eggs sold in the grocery store are white. Brown eggs are commonly seen at farmers markets. But, depending on the breed, chicken eggs come in a whole rainbow of colors: chocolate brown, olive green, tan with multi-colored specks, and even bright blue. The color of the shell does not change the flavor or nutritional content of the egg.
- Changes ON the egg carton.
The most important change to know is that you might not see a sell-by date on the carton. Remember from one of our previous blogs, many eggs reach the store just a few days after the hen has laid them. Egg cartons with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grade shield on them must display the “pack date.” This is the date when the eggs were washed, graded and placed into the carton.
Regardless of the rule changes, it is important that eggs you bring home from the store should be stored in an egg bin or some other container that allows good air circulation around the eggs, to help maintain freshness. Make sure to put the new eggs on the bottom of the bin, with older eggs on top. And everything goes in the refrigerator, where they can remain safe for 3-5 weeks, if your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
If you keep your eggs in the original package, make it a habit to write on the container the date you purchased the eggs. That way, you will know how long that they are safe to eat.