Extending the storage time of eggs at home or at retail would increase Salmonella food poisoning risks, says the latest European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) scientific report on public health risks from eggs.
The advice comes in response to a request from the European Commission to help inform any future developments on date marking for eggs.
EFSA’s experts looked at the consequences of extending the sell-by date and best-before date for eggs eaten on their own or as ingredients in food. The sell-by date is the last date shops are supposed to display eggs for sale; the best before date is the period in which the eggs maintain their best quality, for example their texture and flavor.
If the sell-by date for household consumption is extended from 21 to 28 days, the risk of infections increases by 40 percent for uncooked eggs and by 50 percent for slightly cooked eggs. In the worst case scenario, where the sell-by date is 42 days and the best before date is 70 days, the risk is about three times higher than currently for uncooked and slightly cooked eggs.
Keeping eggs refrigerated is the only way to reduce the increased risk of infections due to extended storage. However, if the the sell-by date and best-before date were extended for more than three weeks, the risk increases – even with refrigeration in shops.