Egg Quality Determination

Egg grade is determined by standards established by the USDA and is based on both the quality and size of the eggs. The determination of egg value is based upon both attributes and each characteristic is evaluated independently.

The consumer grades for shell eggs are AA, A, and B grades. Each grade is determined based on identification of interior and exterior characteristics of individual eggs. High exterior quality is indicated by a clean, smooth, well-shaped egg shell showing no indication of weakness or cracks. Interior quality is evaluated based on albumen and yolk appearances.

All eggs sold in retail markets must meet quality standards of grade B or higher. Most eggs sold in supermarkets are of grades AA or A. Grade B eggs are normally processed for their contents and are sold to bakeries and food service establishments for manufacturing of other foods.

High quality egg contents are indicated by firm, thick albumen and yolks. The air cell is very small (less than 3/16-inch in depth), and the albumen contains no blood or meat spots. Grade B egg contents may have watery albumen, enlarged-friable yolks, and blood spots less than 1/8-inch in diameter. Eggs with large blood spots are classified as loss eggs and are considered "inedible". The grade of each egg is determined individually by the lowest exterior or interior quality factor. Most downgraded shell eggs are due to external shell factors, but have high quality egg contents.

Eggs that meet AA or A grade standards are also evaluated upon size or weight standards. Six categories of egg sizes are recognized by the USDA. They are listed below with minimum weights per dozen eggs.

Grade

Weight per dozen

Jumbo

30 ounces

Extra Large

27 ounces

Large

24 ounces

Medium

21 ounces

Small

18 ounces

Pee Wee

15 ounces

Source: Mississippi State University Extension Service: http://www.msstate.edu/dept/poultry/4heggs.htm

Related Links:

Egg Characteristics

Egg Nutritional Composition

Egg Storage and Handling

Egg Cooking Methods

Egg Equivalent Amounts

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