This assurance is available at little or no additional cost to consumers — eggs graded by USDA (eggs identified with the USDA grade shield) cost essentially the same as eggs without the USDA grade shield.
Only eggs graded by USDA may be packed into cartons that bear the shield-shaped USDA grademark shown here.
The Julian date is the “pack date,” when the eggs were washed, graded and place in the carton.
This three-digit code represents the consecutive day of the year, with January 1 as 001 and December 31 being 365.
Sell By Date: Though not required, most egg cartons also contain a “sell by” date beyond which they should not be sold.
In USDA-inspected plants (indicated by the USDA shield on the package), this date can’t exceed 30 days beyond the pack date which is within USDA regulations. Information from the Georgia Egg Commission: Julian Date: Starting with January 1 as number 1 and ending with December 31 as 365, these numbers represent the consecutive days of the year.
The egg will continue to be fresh for at least another 2-3 weeks if it has been refrigerated from the time packed until used at 45 degrees F. As the egg ages, it does lose some of its qualities, so if you were baking a cake or whipping meringue, your cake might not rise as high as expected, and you might not get the volume of meringue you would expect, so for baking purposes it is better to use a fresher egg.Many eggs reach stores only a few days after being laid.Determining the freshness of eggs can be confusing at times, as some egg cartons feature two dates.An example of a date and location code is shown in the picture below: Cartons that have the USDA grade shield are marked to identify the company and location where the eggs were packed, and the date that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed into the cartons.In addition, most packers also provide consumers with a code date, which indicates the last date the eggs should be sold at retail, or used by the consumer. CODE DATES: Egg processors typically print dates commonly called “Code Dates” on cartons for purposes of rotating stock or controlling inventory. I barely resist the urge to crumple into a heap in front of the dairy case. Especially considering my family eats a respectable amount of eggs.Most are housed in large indoor barns and do not necessarily have access to the outdoors. But I hate the thought of sick hens in cramped cages. Do I pay three times as much for the cage-free option? What’s better: local eggs labeled as natural or eggs trucked in from Ohio labeled as organic? When we run out of eggs, my husband hops on his bike and pedals one mile down the road to a neighbor with a flock of happy hens in the backyard and a sign advertising “Fresh Eggs” in the front. I usually buy 2-3 dozen at a time, which lasts us 1-2 weeks.Because of the large populations, these hens may also be given antibiotics to prevent infections and diseases from spreading, but they do have some space to walk and stretch.Beak cutting (to prevent hens from pecking each other) and starvation practices are allowed with this group; there is no third-party auditing.USDA graders constantly monitor quality, size, and packaging of these eggs.USDA CARTON STAMPING TELLS WHEN AND WHERE THE EGGS ARE PACKED When the USDA grade shield is present on the carton, the carton must also be labeled with the date and location of where the eggs were packed.The Julian date is usually found on the short side of the carton.