The egg, symbolic of life itself, is nutritious and serves up well as a snack or as part of a more substantial meal. Everyone the world over eats eggs. Oh, except vegans.

The thing is we at The Coffee House have been having a chat about food waste. Mountains of good food is destroyed daily in wealthy countries as the sell by date is passed. It’s a scandal.

In the course of our conversation we realised our relationship with food has changed beyond all recognition. The bottom line is we have lost the ability to understand our food. It has resulted in;

* our difficulty in choosing a good piece of fruit, meat, fish, vegetable. Our knowledge of what looks, smells, feels, even sounds right (think of a melon) has gone.

* our inability to cobble a number of dishes together from a few ingredients

* our lack of desire to cook something from scratch more than a couple of times a week, if that!

* our compliance with H&S guidance and labelling schemes. If it’s out of date mate, throw it away.

Obviously each household is different but the trends are real.

We had a think about what has led us all to this madness! The list is surprisingly long. If you have something to add or disagree with some points let us know;

* the weekly shop as opposed to the daily stroll down to the market means we don’t plan ahead as well, leading to food waste
* the obsession with sell by dates
* food scares probably resulting from factory farming and monoculture farm practises
* refrigeration and freezer technology coupled with airmiles means we have lost a sense of time and location. We don’t know where our food comes from and we even forget it’s in the freezer!
* changing roles within the household with both parents working, coupled with longer hours (including longer travelling times) means no one is at home spending time preparing fresh meals for the evening, the main meal of the day. This has been an important area for keeping food knowledge alive, now sadly lost.
* rise of the celebrity chef who talks about everything except how to cook up simple, delicious food. Delia may be an exception here. These chefs have of course failed to replace the grandmother or mother and the occasional father as teacher.
* ready meals that of course make us all lazy and are solely responsible for turning us into TV addicts (that and long hours and travelling to and from work) making interesting communication within families a novelty!

We could go on but lets not!

In a recent post I mentioned coming across some butter about a month out of date. It smelt absolutely fine so I finished the butter off over a few days. I didn’t end up in hospital.

The Egg Test

Now I have an egg staring at me in the fridge. It’s 8 days over its use by date. If it was a few days over, fine but it’s a week. Trouble is I can’t really, truthfully remember the egg test(s) that establish that an egg is still OK to eat.

Can anyone help me here?

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15 Responses to EGG

  1. Pete Smith says:

    First off, it’s important to be precise about the various dates:
    ‘Sell by’ and ‘Display until’ are used by supermarkets for stock control.
    ‘Best before’ is the date when the food is no longer at its best but is still perfectly edible. Food can be sold after its ‘best beffore’ date provided it’s still of satisfactory quality.
    ‘Use by’ appears on foods that go off quickly and may cause food poisoning. It’s illegal to sell food past this date, and official advice is not to eat it either.
    ‘Use within’ applies to food that goes off once opened. Always follow this, even though the ‘use by’ date hasn’t been reached.

    However, eggs are different:
    They mustn’t be sold after their ‘sell by’ or ‘display until’ date.
    The box must have a ‘best before’ date, after which the eggs should not be eaten.

    Frankly, it’s not surprising people are reluctant to use their common sense given this confusing system.

  2. Pete Smith says:

    As for the common sense egg tests, always break the egg into a cup and smell it before use. If it smells the least bit suspect, bin it.
    Always cook a dodgy egg thoroughly. No soufflees or runny omelettes.

  3. matt says:

    Ah yes, I’ve changed the egg bit within the post to ‘use by’. All a little confusing.

    So you use the smell test. Not knowing what an off egg smells like I’ll probably just bin it.


  4. Pete Smith says:

    Eggs shouldn’t smell of anything really. If you catch a faint whiff of something that reminds you of the fume cupboard in the school chemistry lab, it’s off.

    All that guff about balancing it on the blunt end …. forget it.

  5. Pete Smith says:

    Personally, I’d bring back food rationing. In spite of the efforts of the guys at NO2ID, we’ll probably get a national ID card imposed on us some time soon. Since this is a smart card designed to hold our personal and entitlement data, it could be used to track our food purchases and call the Thought Police if we go over.

  6. matt says:

    A sort of ‘Brazil’ dystopia does seem to be a UK obsession. Why is that?

    OK. I’ve got the egg thingy now. Ta.

  7. Dave On Fire says:

    Give it a few years Pete, and there’ll be huge demos demanding rationing. Long-term, food prices are going the same way as oil prices.

  8. Pete Smith says:

    Dave, we’re not as badly placed as American suburbanites, but when Peak Oil kicks in a lot of people are going to wish they’d never had their gardens paved over. Get that allotment now.

  9. Pete Smith says:

    A sort of ‘Brazil’ dystopia does seem to be a UK obsession. Why is that?

    Wartime shortages and liberty restrictions are still burned into our national subconscious. And we’re gloomy bastards by nature.

    OK. I’ve got the egg thingy now. Ta.

    Well you did ask. Sorry to bore you 🙂

  10. judithgr says:

    I keep eggs practically forever. They almost never go bad if refrigerated. Scaredy cat!

  11. matt says:

    Do you. Ah, damn. My wife just got me to throw them away yesterday.

    I suggested keeping them for target practice on the local troublesome kids but, that idea was met with disapproval.

    I then suggested my 3 year old son might need some training in the art of egg throwing. That didn’t go down well either.

    There’s no fun in the world any more.

  12. Pete Smith says:

    The local Neighbourhood Watch is making noises ahead of the annual Halloween ‘festivities’. Apparently if you don’t cooperate with trick-or-treat, in some quarters you get eggs thrown at the house.

    Essex Police is just one of several forces across the UK determined to make youngsters aware of their responsibilities to others on Hallowe’en.

    ‘Don’t get egg on your face’ is the headline of a hard-hitting poster and online campaign now running in Essex.

    It often comes as a nasty surprise to youngsters that what often starts out as harmless fun can result in a criminal conviction when Hallowe’en pranks get out of hand.

    Under the Public Order Act, anyone behaving in a manner likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress could be arrested. Threatening to throw something, shouting through the letter box and scaring people are all examples of this anti-social behaviour.

    Anyone causing criminal damage could also be arrested. Eggs do cause permanent damage to property. In Essex the police are advising shops not to sell flour and eggs to young people on or around October 31st.
    Steve Tutton, Head of Essex Police Community Safety department, explains: “Opening the door to ghosts and ghouls is not everyone’s idea of a good night. Some people may not be prepared with a bag of sweets or may run out. Eggs do cause permanent damage to brickwork and anyone throwing them at houses is causing criminal damage.

    “If the behaviour of a certain person or group of people is causing harassment, they will be dealt with swiftly by officers who will be keeping an eye on events.”

    The final word from Essex Police to would-be trick-or-treaters – “Do not knock on the doors of strangers whatever your age.”

  13. matt says:

    Anti-social behaviour, that’s the term I was trying to remember. There are certain kids/teenagers around here that need a ‘local’ solution. Eggs would be too nice for them.

    As for Halloween, it is best if kids visit households whose families are friends or neighbours one gets on with. A tricky one for some! Whoever came up with this Halloween tradition must have had a twisted sense of humour. 🙂

  14. Pete Smith says:

    Halloween as we know it is an American import that has occurred well within my lifetime. I well remember watching 60s US TV programs and being completely bemused by the idea of trick or treat.

    “Whoever came up with this Halloween tradition must have had a twisted sense of humour”

    Or an eye for a money-making opportunity. Same goes for Father’s Day, which never existed in my yoof, and Mother’s Day, which mutated out of the good old English tradition of Mothering Sunday. All just ways of getting the punters to spend some money.

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