If an egg sinks to the bottom of a bowl of water and lies sideways, it is very fresh; if it stands on one end in the bottom of the bowl, it is less fresh but still good to eat. But if it floats to the surface of the water, indicating that air has permeated the shell, it is no longer fresh.
This simple test can be more reliable than the best-before date stamp each egg laid in the EU must bear. But research in the UK has shown that consumers there are throwing away 720 million eggs every year – three times more than in 2008 and at a cost of £139 million (€161 million).
The scale of waste has been blamed on overcautious consumers relying on best-before dates to decide if eggs are fresh enough to eat, and the growing popularity of vegetarian and “flexitarian” diets has boosted overall sales.
Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein, and Irish registered dietician Paula Mee recommends eating up to eight a week in her recently published book, Mediterranean Mood Food.
Last year sales of eggs in the UK were £7.2 billion (€8.3 billion) – a 4 percent rise on the previous year – according to recent figures from the British Egg Industry Council.