Yesterday we went shopping at our co-op. It’s where we do much of our shopping. I was curious as to how fresh their eggs were, and the freshest eggs I could find were those packed 8 days ago. There were also eggs that were packed more than 30 days ago.
According to the USDA: “Many eggs reach stores only a few days after the hen lays them.” Hmmm, I’ve yet to encounter such fresh eggs in a supermarket. They typically are two to six weeks old.
The USDA has no legal definition for the word “Fresh” when it comes to eggs. It does have a definition for “Fresh Poultry” which is:
“Fresh” means whole poultry and cuts have never been below 26 °F (the temperature at which poultry freezes). This is consistent with consumer expectations of “fresh” poultry, i.e., not hard to the touch or frozen solid.
In 1997, FSIS began enforcing a final rule prohibiting the use of the term “fresh” on the labeling of raw poultry products whose internal temperature has ever been below 26 °F.
The temperature of individual packages of raw poultry products labeled “fresh” can vary as much as 1 °F below 26 °F within inspected establishments or 2 °F below 26 °F in commerce.
Fresh poultry should always bear a “keep refrigerated” statement.
(USDA – Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms)
I’ll keep looking for these phantom, a few days old eggs, the USDA claims are on store shelves. If I find any, I’ll let you know. Tomorrow, I’m going to have a chat with Karen at the USDA. I was going to chat with her this morning, but she doesn’t chat on Thursdays. I wonder what she does on Thursdays. I’m going to find out what the USDA thinks consumer expect when they see phrases like “farm fresh” on eggs.