Americans may have to start eating older eggs as the staple flies off grocery shelves amid the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in atweet Friday the the department is relaxing some grading regulations “to ensure American consumers have greater access to safe, quality, and affordable eggs.”
The department is waiving a prohibition on granting a USDA grade to eggs more than 21 days old or which have previously shipped for sale, according to an explanationposted on its website.
The step will allow eggs that have been shipped to food service outlets to be returned, repackaged and sold to consumers at grocery stores, according to the notice. Eggs up to 30 days old will now be eligible for a USDA grade.
U.S. grocers have boosted orders for eggs by as much as six times normal volumes, eroding inventories that producers were building for Easter sales.
Wholesale large eggs in the Midwest cost $3.09 a dozen, according to Urner Barry prices, the benchmark for the industry, up 180% since the beginning of March.
If an expiration date appears on a carton, it can be no more than 30 days from the day the eggs were packed into the carton, according to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s website. That means under the new procedure, eggs with a USDA grade may be up to 60 days old.
— With assistance by Lydia Mulvany, and Kim Chipman
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