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Shell Eggs...a consumer guide - West Virginia Department of ...

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What should I look for when buyingeggs?Purchase only clean, unbroken, odor-free eggs.Quality is indicated by egg grade, not size. A processcalled candling, in which eggs are held in front <strong>of</strong> alight source, allows egg graders and regulatory<strong>of</strong>ficers to observe the size <strong>of</strong> the air cell, thecondition <strong>of</strong> the yolk and the white, and any hiddendefects. These factors, along with shell soundness,cleanliness and shape, are used to classify eggs asGrade AA, Grade A or Grade B.AA and A are the grades most commonlymarketed at retail. Grade AA eggs are the highestquality, but there is no difference in nutritive valueamong the different grades.How many sizes <strong>of</strong> eggs are sold?The <strong>of</strong>ficial size or weight classes are:Use By, Sell By or Expiration DateThe words “Keep Refrigerated”Safe Handling StatementThe carton may show the candling, or Julian,date. This three-digit number indicates the specificday <strong>of</strong> the year on which the eggs were graded,sized and packed. For example, number 001 wouldrepresent January 1, while 365 would be December31.This number provides an indication <strong>of</strong> the eggs’freshness.Is it safe to use eggs after the sell by orexpiration date has passed?Yes. Sell by or expiration codes indicate freshness.Since egg quality deteriorates over time, code datesare used to ensure the grade specified on the labelis accurate. If stored properly, eggs may be safelyconsumed several weeks beyond the expiration datewith no significant quality loss.<strong>West</strong> <strong>Virginia</strong><strong>Department</strong> <strong>of</strong> AgricultureWalt Helmick, CommissionerWhat information is included on theegg carton?All eggs sold at retail in cartons must be packagedin cartons that are clean, intact and free <strong>of</strong> odor.Labels must include: Grade and Size The term “<strong>Eggs</strong>”Identity <strong>of</strong> the packer by USDA plantnumber, state permit number or nameand addressAre eggs nutritious?Yes. <strong>Eggs</strong> contain 13 vitamins and numerousminerals. One egg provides 10 to 13% <strong>of</strong> the dailyreference value for protein – as much as one ounce<strong>of</strong> lean meat, fish or poultry. Egg protein is thehighest quality food protein – second only tomother’s milk for human nutrition.<strong>Eggs</strong> are nutrient-dense; they provide manynutrients compared to the number <strong>of</strong> calories theycontain. Calories per egg are:Quantity <strong>of</strong> eggs1 2


One large egg contains about 4.5 grams <strong>of</strong> fat,but only 1.5 grams <strong>of</strong> saturated fat, the kind linkedto increased blood cholesterol levels. More than halfthe egg’s total protein content is found in the eggwhite, which is both fat- and cholesterol-free.Are white eggs better than brown eggs?No. <strong>Shell</strong> color depends on the breed <strong>of</strong> henthat produced the egg. It does not affect the egg’snutritive value, cooking properties, flavor or quality.Brown eggs usually cost more than white eggsbecause brown egg layers are slightly larger birdsand require more food.Are Grade AA eggs more nutritious thanGrade A eggs?No. There is no difference in nutrients betweenegg grades. When broken out, the yolk and thickwhite <strong>of</strong> a Grade AA egg stands taller than that <strong>of</strong>a Grade A egg.Why do eggs sometimes turn green whencooked?When eggs are cooked for too long or at toohigh a temperature, they will sometimes turn green.Color change may also occur if the cooking watercontains a high level <strong>of</strong> iron.Although the green tint does not affect flavoror wholesomeness, it may be avoided by cooking atlow temperatures and using stainless steel cookware.Is it safe to consume eggs with a bloodspot on the yolk?Yes. The presence <strong>of</strong> a blood spot on the yolkdoes not mean the egg is fertilized or unfit to eat.Blood spots occur occasionally when a blood vesselon the yolk sac surface ruptures during eggformation. Easily removed with the tip <strong>of</strong> a knife,the spots do not affect the egg’s nutritive or chemicalproperties.What is Salmonella?Salmonella refers to a type <strong>of</strong> bacteria that maylead to food poisoning in humans and animals. <strong>Eggs</strong>,as well as other foods, are susceptible to bacterialgrowth. However, eggs have several natural barriersthat help prevent contamination, such as the shell,enzymes found in the egg white and membranessurrounding the shell and yolk.The following precautions will help preventSalmonella food poisoning:Use only fresh, clean, unbroken andproperly refrigerated eggs.Avoid mixing yolks and whites with theshell. Use an inexpensive little gadgetcalled an egg separator to help insure thatany bacteria possibly present on the shellwill not reach the yolk and white.n an average year, 3500 lots <strong>of</strong> shell eggswill be inspected at over 670establishments.All people who distribute eggs in WVmust have an egg distributor permit.What do <strong>of</strong>ficials check during aninspection?WVDA regulatory <strong>of</strong>ficers contact grocerystores and other retail outlets to insure shell eggsare kept in a sanitary environment, are properlyrefrigerated, are intact and undamaged, meet cartonlabeling rules and meet the grade and weight specifiedon the carton.Storage TipsLeave eggs in their original carton to helpprevent them from drying out andpicking up odors and flavor from otherfoods in the refrigerator.Store eggs at 45°F with the small end <strong>of</strong>the egg pointed down in the carton.This will help keep the air cell in placeand the yolk centered in the egg.Place egg cartons in the coldest part <strong>of</strong>the refrigerator – an inside shelf, not inthe door.Cooking TipsMost recipes are based on large eggs.Hard cooked eggs peel easily if they areold. Use eggs at least one week old.Cold eggs separate the easiest. Egg whitesreach their greatest volume if they set atroom temperature for 30minutes before beating.Cook eggs until the whites arecompletely set and the yolks begin tothicken. Cook scrambled eggs andomelets until thickened and no visibleliquid egg remains.The thick, ropey pieces <strong>of</strong> egg whitecalled chalazae help anchor the yolk inthe thick white. The more prominentthe chalazae, the fresher the egg. Thisnatural part <strong>of</strong> the egg does not interferewith the cooking or beating <strong>of</strong> the white.Regulatory & EnvironmentalAffairs Division1900 Kanawha Boulevard, EastCharleston, <strong>West</strong> <strong>Virginia</strong> 25305304-558-2208www.wvagriculture.org3 4 5

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