value...cost and convenience should be considered when buying
use USDA's voluntary shell egg grading service have their facilities
and procedures federally approved and monitored to ensure that
they meet USDA's rigid sanitary requirements. Other packers operate
according to State laws.
protein, vitamin A, riboflavin, and other vitamins and minerals.
The yolk contains all the fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
in an egg. In 1 large egg, the yolk contains 5 grams total fat,
2 grams saturated fatty acids, 213 milligrams cholesterol, and
60 calories. The egg white contains 15 calories. Use the Nutrition
Facts panel on each individual product label to learn about
the nutrient content of that food and how it fits into an overall
Choose a diet
low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to help reduce the
risk of getting certain diseases and to help maintain a healthy
weight. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest choosing
a diet containing 30 percent or less of calories from fat, and
less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids. Also,
some health authorities suggest that dietary cholesterol be limited
to an average of 300 milligrams or less per day.
The Food Guide
Pyramid suggests 2 to 3 servings each day of food from the meat
group, the equivalent of 5 to 7 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry,
or fish. Because egg protein is of high quality, eggs are an alternative
to lean meat, poultry, and fish. Count one whole egg as 1/3 serving,
and remember that egg yolks should be limited to four per week.
2 egg whites for each whole egg in muffins, cookies, puddings,
and pie fillings. Some specialty egg products are available, such
as liquid whole eggs that are lower in fat and cholesterol, liquid
products made without yolks, and dried whites for cake decorators.
When you choose a whole egg, balance your cholesterol intake by
choosing other foods that are low in cholesterol.
Weight (Size) Assurance
are packed according to official U.S. quality grade standards
and weight (size) classes. The grade and weight (size) are printed
on the egg carton.
The USDA grade
shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality
and checked for weight (size) under the supervision of a technically
trained USDA grader. USDA's grading service is voluntary; egg
packers who request it, pay for it. Compliance with grade, weight
(size), and sanitary requirements is monitored by USDA.
who do not use the USDA grading service will put terms such as
"Grade A" on their egg cartons without the shield. Their compliance
with grade, weight (size), and other requirements is monitored
by State agencies.
(U.S. Weight Class)
you the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs. It does not
refer to the dimensions of an egg or how big it looks. Eggs of
any weight (size) class may differ in quality. Most published
recipes are based on large-size eggs.
|Size or weight
|Minimum net weight
U.S. Grade (Quality)
three consumer grades for eggs: U.S. Grade AA, A, and B. The grade
is determined by the interior quality of the egg and the appearance
and condition of the egg shell. Eggs of any quality grade may
differ in weight (size).
AA eggs have whites that are thick and firm; yolks that are
high, round, and practically free from defects; and clean, unbroken
A eggs have whites that are reasonably firm; yolks that are
high, round, and practically free from defects; and clean, unbroken
shells. This is the quality most often sold in stores.
B eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may
be wider and flatter than eggs of the higher grades; the shells
must be unbroken, but may show slight stains. This quality is
seldom found in retail stores.
AA and A eggs are good for all purposes, but especially for poaching
and frying where appearance is important. U.S. Grade B eggs, if
available, are fine for general cooking and baking.
Marks of Quality
|Grade AA eggcovers small area and stands
high; white is thick and firm; yolk is high and round.
|Grade A eggcovers moderate area; white
is reasonably firm and stands fairly high; yolk is high.
|Mass candling-- egg passing over a light.
Eggs with cracked shells and interior defects are identified
of an Egg
1 -- Shell
Outer covering of egg, composed mainly of calcium carbonate. May
be white or brown depending on breed of chicken. Color does not
affect quality, flavor, cooking characteristics, nutritional value,
or shell thickness.
2 -- Shell
Two membranes -- outer and inner -- just inside the shell surrounding
the albumen (white). Provide protective barrier against bacterial
penetration. Air cell forms between membranes.
3 -- Air
Pocket of air usually found at large end of the egg between shell
membranes. Caused by contraction of contents while egg cools after
laying. Increases in size with age.
4 -- Outer
Thin Albumen (White)
Nearest to the shell. Spreads around thick white of high-quality
5 -- Firm
or Inner Thick Albumen (White)
Excellent source of riboflavin and protein. In high-quality eggs,
stands higher and spreads less than thin white. In low-quality
eggs, appears like thin white.
6 -- Chalazae
Twisted, cord-like strands of egg white. Anchor yolk in center
of thick white. Prominent, thick chalazae indicate high quality
7 -- Vitelline
Colorless membrane surrounding yolk.
8 -- Yolk
Yellow portion of egg. Color varies with feed of the hen; does
not indicate nutritional content. Major source of vitamins, minerals,
almost half of the protein, and all of the fat and cholesterol.
Germinal disc; slight depression barely noticeable on side of
Only buy refrigerated
eggs with clean, unbroken shells.
It is best
not to wash eggs before storing or using them. Washing is a routine
part of commercial egg processing and the eggs do not need to
At home, keep
raw eggs in their original carton on an inside shelf in the refrigerator
(40 °F). For best quality, use within 5 weeks after bringing them
eggs (in the shell or peeled) in the refrigerator (40 °F). Use
within 1 week after cooking.
sold today are infertile; roosters are not housed with the laying
hens. Shell color depends on the breed of the hen. Yolk color
depends on the feed the hen consumes. There is no nutritional
difference between fertile and infertile eggs, brown- and white-shelled
eggs, or pale or dark egg yolks.
utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before
and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
the number of eggs needed from the carton and return the carton
to the refrigerator.
until the white is completely firm and the yolk begins to thicken
but is not hard. Scrambled eggs should be cooked until no visible
liquid remains. Fried eggs should be cooked on both sides or in
a covered pan.
when preparing egg-containing foods that are not cooked or are
only lightly cooked before serving, such as ice cream, eggnog,
mayonnaise, caesar salad, hollandaise sauce, or bearnaise sauce.
Only use recipes that start with a stirred egg custard base that
is first cooked to 160 °F.
If a recipe
calls for adding raw eggs to a previously cooked dish, the dish
must be cooked further until it reaches 160 °F.
any recipe that contains eggs, resist the temptation to taste-test
the mixture during preparation. Egg-containing foods should be
thoroughly cooked before eating.
and serving eggs and egg-rich foods, keep them out of the refrigerator
no more than 2 hours total, not including cooking time.
If hot egg-rich
foods are not going to be served immediately after cooking, put
the hot foods into shallow containers and refrigerate at once
so they will cool quickly.
about egg safety, call USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline. The national
toll-free number is 800-535-4555. In the Washington, DC, area,
call (202) 720-3333.
For more information
about nutrition, write:
U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
1120 20th Street NW, Suite 200 North
Washington, DC 20036
Use the Food
Guide Pyramid to help you eat better every day...the Dietary Guidelines
way. Start with plenty of Breads, Cereals, Rice, and Pasta; Vegetables;
and Fruits. Add two to three servings from the Milk group and
two to three servings from the Meat group. Each of these food
groups provides some, but not all, of the nutrients you need.
No one food group is more important than another - for good health
you need them all. Go easy on the fats, oils, and sweets, the
foods in the small tip of the Pyramid.
HOW TO BUY
for the Grade
AA and U.S. Grade A eggs have whites and yolks that stand
high and are practically free from defects, and shells that
are clean and unbroken.
for the Size
the required minimum net weight per dozen eggs.
HOW TO BUY EGGS
Home and Garden Bulletin No. 144
Agricultural Marketing Service
Issue date: February 1995