The date on the egg carton is usually a “sell by” date (if it says EXP, that’s an expiration date. Don’t use them after that). A “sell by” date means that the eggs are good for a few days past the stamped date. How long? They are safe to use for 3-5 weeks from the date of purchase, according to the USDA (if stored correctly, and if kept at proper temperatures before storing).
I prefer the Julian date to determine freshness. The Julian calendar numbers the days of the year 1-365. The Julian date appears to the right of the “sell by” date on egg cartons. Click here to download the Julian calendar for 2014. I use eggs 3-5 weeks from that date, because eggs degrade over time. The egg whites become looser with age, and though older eggs will usually bake all right when you’re making cookies and such, it’s best to use fresher eggs for omelettes, scrambles, and soufflés. Cakes like angel food require very fresh eggs as well, because their structure relies on fresh egg whites.
How can you tell if an egg is still safe to eat, aside from the date? Put the egg into cold water at the bottom of a saucepan. A fresh egg will lie on its side at the bottom. If it’s less fresh, but still all right, it will begin to sit up a bit. If it floats, it’s compost. Toss it.
Still need more information about eggs? Check this out.