Jen Juneau
January 22, 2016 3:00 pm

Eggs are a pretty straightforward thing to buy at the grocery store – in fact, they’re usually a staple in the top three stereotypical grocery list items, alongside milk and bread. And unless you buy yours in liquid form, your egg-buying process probably just consists of opening the carton, checking to make sure none of those suckers are cracked, then being on your merry way.

But because life cannot be this easy, the universe has served us some unsettling news when it comes to our run-of-the-mill egg-purchasing experience. According to a post on the Facebook page for Fresh Eggs Daily that has gone a bit viral since its appearance a few days ago, there’s a lot more to checking those cartons than just ensuring an OK best/sell-by date and none of the egg shells inside are cracked.

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Apparently, those little numbers stamped on the side of the carton mean something – and we’re not talking about just the best/sell-by date. The actual one-, two-, or three-digit numbers you see circled in the photo above correspond to the day of the calendar year that carton was filled with eggs. So if you see a “4,” the eggs were packaged on the most recent Jan. 4; “45” would be the 45th day of the year, or February 14th, etc. Eggs Fresh Daily looked up some numbers at a local grocery store; many of the egg cartons they found had been sitting there for about a month.

The post goes on to state that, by law, farmers have 30 days to carton eggs and then another 30 days to sell them, which means the eggs you get could be up to two months old by the time you buy them.

But! Eggs Fresh Daily does make it clear in the comments that  longer shelf dates don’t necessarily mean the product is bad – it could simply mean the freshness has deteriorated.

Moral of the story? Check that number on the carton just as hard (if not harder) than the best/sell-by date, buy local (or farm your own!), and read those labels.

(Images via Facebook)