Eggs safe to eat past 'best before'

PA

Eggs can be eaten two days after the 'best before' date, according to new guidelines issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

As part of a drive to cut down on wastage – an estimated 660,000 eggs costing £50 million are thrown away by British consumers each year – the FSA say eggs up to two days past their best before date are safe to eat "providing they are cooked thoroughly".

Previously the food safety watchdog had warned that eggs eaten after their best before date could contain salmonella, a bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. In its new advice, the FSA said: "As part of a drive to cut food waste, we have revised our advice on using eggs after their 'best before' date. The advice now is that, providing the eggs are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their 'best before' date."

The FSA's announcement has been hailed as great news by the British egg industry, which has invested £400 million to ensure that eggs are produced to the highest food safety standards, resulting in plummeting levels of salmonella.

However despite the loosening of rules by the FSA, the trade body warned consumers to make sure that the eggs they buy are stamped with the red British Lion logo to make sure they are produced "to the highest standards".

Cook thoroughly
The agency said that eggs can be eaten after their best-before date if they are cooked so until "both yolk and white are solid", or if they are used in dishes "where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake".

The FSA went on to say: "Apart from eggs, most foods can be eaten safely after the 'best before' date, as this is mostly about quality rather than safety. Past this date, it doesn't mean that the food will be harmful, rather that its flavour, colour or texture might begin to deteriorate.

"However, it is still important to remember that if food has a 'use by' date, then it shouldn't be used after this date as it could put your health at risk."

Egg freshness test
If you're in doubt about whether an egg is safe to eat, carry out the simple freshness test. Fill a deep bowl or glass with water and lower the egg in. A very fresh egg will immediately sink to the bottom and lie flat on its side because the air cell within the egg is very small.

As eggs start to lose freshness, more air enters the cavity causing them to begin to float and stand upright. At this point the egg is still safe to eat, however if it fully floats in the water and does not touch the bottom of the bowl or glass at all, it will most likely be bad and shouldn't be eaten.

Use them up
If you have a surplus of eggs to use up, try to utilise them in recipes rather them let go to waste. Lovefoodhatewaste.com has a huge range of ideas from breakfast recipes such as French toast, omelettes and pancakes, to lunch options like quiche, Spanish tortillas and dinner dishes like mousakka and kedgeree.
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