Eggs – Everything You Need to Know and Recipes

  • food-egg-img1The Egg – About the egg, nutritional value and health issues of eating chicken eggs
  • Playing It Safe With Eggs – What Consumers Need to Know – Food Safety Facts for Consumers to avoid the possibility of foodborne illness, fresh eggs must be handled carefully. Even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain bacteria called Salmonella that can cause an intestinal infection.
  • Focus On Shell Eggs – This Food Safety Focus includes information regarding inspection and grading, Easter egg safety and an egg storage chart.
  • Egg Products and Food Safety – This fact sheet provides in-depth information on egg products. Liquid, frozen, and dried egg products are widely used by the foodservice industry, and can be found as ingredients in other foods.
  • Egg Recipes – Basic Egg Dishes, The easiest and perhaps simplest and most delicious egg dishs
  • FDA Publishes Final Guidance on the Egg Safety Rule


The Egg
An egg (jamie rolands) is a body consisting of an ovum surrounded by layers of membranes and an outer casing of some type, which acts to nourish and protect a developing embryo. Most edible eggs, including bird eggs and turtle eggs, consist of a protective, oval eggshell, the albumen (egg white), the vitellus (egg yolk), and various thin membranes. Every part is edible, although the eggshell is generally discarded. Nutritionally, eggs are considered a good source of protein.

Bird eggs are a common food source. The most commonly used bird eggs are those from the chicken, duck, and goose, but smaller eggs such as quail eggs are occasionally used as a gourmet ingredient, as are the largest bird eggs, from ostriches. Most commercially produced chicken eggs intended for human consumption are unfertilized, since the laying hens are kept without any roosters. Fertile eggs can be purchased and eaten as well, with little nutritional difference. Fertile eggs will not contain a developed embryo, as refrigeration prohibits cellular growth.

Chicken eggs are widely used in many types of cooking. Dishes that use eggs range from both sweet to savoury dishes. Eggs may be pickled; hard-boiled, scrambled, fried and refrigerated; or eaten raw, though the latter is not recommended for people who may be susceptible to salmonella, such as the elderly, the infirm, or pregnant women. In addition, the protein in raw eggs are only 51% bio-available, whereas a cooked egg is nearer 91% bio-available, meaning the protein of cooked eggs is nearly twice as absorbable as the protein from raw eggs.

A boiled egg can be distinguished from a raw egg without breaking the shell by spinning it. A hard-boiled egg’s contents are solid due to the denaturation of the protein, allowing it to spin freely, while the inertia of the liquid contents of a raw egg causes it to stop spinning within approximately three rotations.

The Eggshell
Egg shell color is caused by pigment deposition during egg formation in the oviduct and can vary according to breed, from the more common white or brown to pink or speckled blue-green. Although there is no significant link between shell color and nutritional value, there is often a cultural preference for one color over another. For example, in most regions of the United States, eggs are generally white; while in the northeast of that country and in the United Kingdom, eggs are generally light-brown. In Brazil and Poland, white eggs are generally regarded as industrial, and brown or reddish eggs are preferred. Regarding chicken eggs, the color of the egg depends on the breed of the bird. In general, chicken breeds with white ear lobes lay white eggs, whereas chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs.

Ground egg shells are sometimes used as a food additive to deliver calcium.

Egg Whites
The albumen, or egg white contains protein but little or no fat. It is used in cooking separately from the yolk, and can be aerated or whipped to a light, fluffy consistency. Beaten egg whites are used in desserts such as meringues and mousse.

The Yolk
The yolk in a newly laid egg is round and firm. As the yolk ages it absorbs water from the albumen which increases its size and causes it to stretch and weaken the vitelline membrane (the clear casing enclosing the yolk). The resulting effect is a flattened and enlarged yolk shape.

Yolk color is dependent on the diet of the hen; if the diet contains yellow/orange plant pigments known as xanthophylls, then they are deposited in the yolk, coloring it. A colorless diet can produce an almost colorless yolk. Farmers may enhance yolk color with artificial pigments, or with natural supplements rich in lutein (marigold petals are a popular choice), but in most locations, this activity is forbidden.

Egg characteristics
The shape of an egg is an oval with one end larger than the other end. The egg has cylindrical symmetry along the long axis.

An egg is surrounded by a thin, hard shell. Inside, the egg yolk is suspended in the egg white by one or two spiral bands of tissue called the chalazae (from the Greek word khalazi, meaning hailstone or hard lump.)

Air cell
The larger end of the egg contains the air cell that forms when the contents of the egg cool down and contract after it is laid. Chicken eggs are graded according to the size of this air cell, measured during candling. A very fresh egg has a small air cell and receives a grade of AA. As the size of the air cell increases, and the quality of the egg decreases, the grade moves from AA to A to B. This provides a way of testing the age of an egg: as the air cell increases in size, the egg becomes less dense and the larger end of the egg will rise to increasingly shallower depths when the egg is placed in a bowl of water. A very old egg will actually float in the water and should not be eaten.

Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 150 kcal 650 kJ

Carbohydrates 1.12 g
– Sugars 1.12 g
– Dietary fiber 0.0 g
Fat 10.61 g
Protein 12.58 g
Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.66 mg 51%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.513 mg 34%
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.064 mg 0%
Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.398 mg 28%
Vitamin B6 0.121 mg 9%
Folate (Vit. B9) 44 μg 11%
Vitamin C 0.0 mg 0%
Calcium 50 mg 5%
Iron 1.19 mg 10%
Magnesium 10 mg 3%
Phosphorus 172 mg 25%
Potassium 126 mg 3%
Zinc 1.05 mg 11%

Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient database

Nutritional value

Eggs provide a significant amount of protein to one’s diet, as well as various nutrients.  Chicken eggs are the most commonly eaten eggs, and are highly nutritious. They supply a large amount of complete, high-quality protein (which contains all essential amino acids for humans), and provide significant amounts of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They are also one of the least expensive single-food sources of complete protein. One large chicken egg contains approximately 7 grams of protein.

All of the egg’s vitamin A, D and E is in the eggyolk. The egg is one of the few foods which naturally contain Vitamin D (although, since this nutrient is naturally produced in humans when their skin is exposed to sunlight, other foods’ lack of natural Vitamin D is not necessarily detrimental to their nutritional value). A large egg yolk contains approximately 60 Calories (250 kilojoules); the egg white contains about 15 Calories (60 kilojoules). A large yolk contains more than two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg of cholesterol (although one study shows that the human body does not absorb much cholesterol from eggs). The yolk makes up about 33% of the liquid weight of the egg. It contains all of the fat in the egg and slightly less than half of the protein and much of the nutrients.

It also contains all of the choline, and one yolk contains approximately half of the recommended daily intake. Choline is an important nutrient for development of the brain, and is said to be important for pregnant and nursing women to ensure healthy fetal brain development.

Recently, chicken eggs that are especially high in Omega 3 fatty acids have come on the market. These eggs are made by feeding laying hens a diet containing polyunsaturated fats and kelp meal. Nutrition information on the packaging is different for each of the brands.

Eggs may have different nutritional content depending on the feed and living conditions of the chickens who lay them. Mother Earth News compared eggs from “battery” chickens and eggs from pastured chickens, and found that when compared to the battery eggs, the pastured eggs contained, on average, four times as many omega-3 fatty acids, twice as much vitamin E, half the cholestrol and between two and six times as much beta carotene.

Health issues of eating chicken eggs

Cholesterol and fat
About 60% of the calories in an egg come from fat; Chicken egg yolks contain about 10 grams of fat. People on a low-cholesterol diet may need to cut down on egg consumption, although most of the fat in egg is unsaturated fat and may not be harmful. The egg white consists primarily of water (87%) and protein (13%) and contains no cholesterol and little, if any, fat.

Some people try to avoid eggs in their diet because they are high in cholesterol, which is concentrated in the yolk. This issue is sometimes addressed by eating only some or none of the yolk. People sometimes remove the yolk themselves, or may use prepared egg substitutes such as Egg Beaters.

There is debate over whether egg yolk presents a health risk. Some research suggests it may lower total Low density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol) while raising High density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol).[citation needed] Some advocate the eating of raw eggs and egg yolks for this reason, as cholesterol in the yolk is healthier when uncooked. However issues of salmonella contamination remain for raw eggs. Food scientist Harold McGee argues that the cholesterol in the yolk is not what causes a problem as fat (particularly saturated) is much more likely to raise cholesterol levels than the actual consumption of cholesterol.

A health issue associated with eggs is contamination by pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella enteritidis. Contamination of eggs exiting a female bird via the cloaca may also occur with other members of the Salmonella group, so care must be taken to avoid the egg shell becoming contaminated with fecal matter. In commercial practice, eggs are quickly washed with a sanitizing solution within minutes of being laid.

Most health experts advise people to cook their eggs thoroughly before eating them, as the heat is necessary to kill any infectious micro-organisms that may be present. Raw and undercooked eggs have been associated with salmonella infection. As with meat, containers and surfaces that have been used to process raw eggs should not come in contact with ready-to-eat food.

The risk of infection from raw or undercooked eggs is dependent in part upon the sanitary conditions under which the hens are kept. Some smaller egg producers make a point of keeping their hens in cleaner (and, in some people’s view, more humane) conditions, and observe few or no cases of salmonella in the birds themselves.

Recent evidence suggests the problem is not as prevalent as once thought. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2002 (Risk Analysis April 2002 22(2):203-18) showed that of the 69 billion eggs produced annually, only 2.3 million of them are contaminated with salmonella – equivalent to just one in every 30,000 eggs – thus showing that salmonella infection is quite rarely induced by eggs.

Egg shells act as hermetic seals which guard against bacteria entering, but this seal can be broken through improper handling or if laid by unhealthy chickens. Most forms of contamination enter through such weaknesses in the shell. Fresher eggs often have a more prominent chalazae. eggs are bad

Food allergy
One of the most common food allergies in infants is eggs. Infants usually have the opportunity to grow out of this allergy during childhood, if exposure is minimized. Generally, physicians will recommend feeding only the yolks to infants because of the higher risk of allergic reaction to the egg white.

The egg allergy is prevalent enough in the United States that food labeling practices now include eggs, egg products and the processing of foods on equipment that also process foods containing eggs in a special allergen alert section of the ingredients on the labels.

Egg Storage Chart

Product Refrigerator Freezer
Raw eggs in shell 3 to 5 weeks Do not freeze.
Raw egg whites 2 to 4 days 12 months
Raw egg yolks 2 to 4 days Yolks do not freeze well.
Raw egg accidentally frozen in shell Use immediately after thawing. Keep frozen; then refrigerate to thaw.
Hard-cooked eggs 1 week Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
10 days Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
3 days Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, frozen
After thawing, 7 days, or refer to “Use-By” date on carton. 12 months
Egg substitutes, frozen
After thawing, 3 days, or refer to “Use-By” date on carton. Do not freeze.
Casseroles made with eggs 3 to 4 days After baking, 2 to 3 months.
Eggnog, commercial 3 to 5 days 6 months
Eggnog, homemade 2 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Pies, pumpkin or pecan 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.
Pies, custard and chiffon 3 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Quiche with any kind of filling 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.



Egg Recipes – Basic Egg Dishes


Easy Egg Basics
Easy to make Basic Egg Dishes, Rule#1 in Cooking Eggs: No salt until after they are cooked. The first thing about eggs is, no matter what you have heard, it is never a good idea to salt eggs before or during cooking. It is very important that eggs be salted only after the eggs have cooked. This is because adding salt while cooking will make the eggs lose moisture and become rubbery.

Scrambled Eggs
The easiest and perhaps simplest and most delicious egg dish of all!
For one serving:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium size non-stick pan.
  2. Break open 2 eggs into pan after butter has melted.
  3. With a smooth spatula or wooden spoon, break open yolks and mix eggs around until eggs are cooked to how you like them!

Sunny Side Up or Over-Easy
For traditional sunny-side up eggs,

  1. melt 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter in a 8-inch non-stick omelet pan or skillet over medium heat.
  2. Break open eggs into pan and immediately reduce heat to low.
  3. Cook slowly until the whites are completely set and the yolks begins to thicken, but are not hard. For over easy-eggs flip over for 15 seconds.

Serve eggs right away and enjoy!


[2] Hard Boiled Eggs
To hard cook eggs,

  1. place eggs in enough COLD water to cover completely,
  2. bring to a ROLLING boil over HIGH heat;
  3. reduce heat to a lower MEDIUM boil for an additional 12 minutes.
  4. Promptly chill eggs in ICE WATER

chill eggs in ICE WATER to chill promptly so egg yolks remain nice and bright yellow. Hard boiled eggs are good for one week if kept in the shell, in the refrigerator.

Having a hard time peeling the eggs? Extremely fresh eggs will not peel easily. In fact, an egg that is just a day or two old is almost impossible to peel. As eggs age, the shells will peel more easily. It is advisable that eggs used for hard cooking (including Easter Eggs) be at least 2 weeks old before cooking for easiest peeling.


Easy Quiche
A traditional simple classic, everyone will enjoy.

Items Needed:

  • 1 1/2 cups sausage (browned/drained/crumbled)
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded chedder cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • paprika (optional)

In a skillet, brown sausage; drain. Spoon into an ungreased 10-inch pie pan. Top with potatoes and Cheddar cheese. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper; pour over cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6


The Classic French Omelet
Items needed: For each omelet:

  • 3 eggs (just 2 eggs for a smaller omelet),
  • 1 tablespoon milk,
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • butter.

Mix eggs & milk with a fork until blended. In a non-stick omelet pan melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat, when butter stops foaming pour in eggs, swirling around pan to distribute evenly. Cook, lifting sides of omelet to let uncooked egg flow underneath, until almost set (about 1 minute), quickly sprinkle cheese over half of omelet. Fold plain side of omelet over cheese and cook for an additional 20 seconds. Serve at once. Salt & pepper to taste.

Do not salt eggs before or during cooking. Salt can cause the eggs to become tough tough during cooking, so for best results salt eggs (if desired) only after cooking.


Classic Deviled Eggs
Serve for any occasion, whether it be a wedding feast, a picnic in the park, or for lunch or dinner!

Items Needed: (for 12 Deviled Eggs)

  • 6 hard boiled Eggs (large)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (honey mustard is great!)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • paprika (optional)

For easier peeling use older eggs near the SELL BY date, as fresh eggs are extremely difficult to peel.

To boil eggs, place eggs in enough cold water to cover completely, bring to a rolling boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to a lower MEDIUM BOIL and cook an additional 12 minutes.
Promptly chill eggs in ICE WATER until chilled so yolks stay bright yellow…keep adding ice as necessary….rapid chilling helps prevent the “greenish” ring to appear around the yolk.

Remove shells from eggs, and halve lengthwise with a knife.

Carefully remove the yolks, and place in a medium bowl.

Mash yolks with a fork, and add remaining ingredients.

Very carefully spoon mixture back into the egg white halves. Garnish with a light sprinkling of paprika (optional).




Shell Eggs from Farm to Table

Focus On Shell Eggs – This Food Safety Focus includes information regarding inspection and grading, Easter egg safety and an egg storage chart.

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on earth and can be part of a healthy diet. However, they are perishable just like raw meat, poultry, and fish. Unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. While the number of eggs affected is quite small, there have been cases of foodborne illness in the last few years. To be safe, eggs must be safely handled, refrigerated, and cooked.

What is the History of the Egg?
Eggs existed long before chickens, according to On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. These all-in-one reproductive cells, incorporating the nutrients to support life, evolved about a billion years ago. The first eggs were hatched in the ocean. As animal life emerged from the water about 250 million years ago, they began producing an egg with a tough leathery skin to prevent dehydration of its contents on dry land. The chicken evolved only about 5,000 years ago from an Asian bird.

How Often Does a Hen Lay an Egg?
The entire time from ovulation to laying is about 25 hours. Then about 30 minutes later, the hen will begin to make another one.

How Does Salmonella Infect Eggs?
Bacteria can be on the outside of a shell egg. That’s because the egg exits the hen’s body through the same passageway as feces is excreted. That’s why eggs are washed and sanitized at the processing plant. Bacteria can be inside an uncracked, whole egg. Contamination of eggs may be due to bacteria within the hen’s ovary or oviduct before the shell forms around the yolk and white. SE doesn’t make the hen sick. It is also possible for eggs to become infected by Salmonella Enteritidis fecal contamination through the pores of the shells after they’re laid.

What Part Carries Bacteria?
Researchers say that, if present, the SE is usually in the yolk or “yellow.” However, they can’t rule out the bacteria being in egg whites. So everyone is advised against eating raw or undercooked egg yolks and whites or products containing raw or undercooked eggs.

What Safe Handling Instructions are on Egg Cartons?
All packages of raw, shell eggs not treated to destroy Salmonella must carry the following safe handling statement:

  • SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria: Keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

Who is “At Risk” for Eating Raw or Undercooked Eggs?
Young children, older adults, pregnant women (the risk is to the unborn child), and people with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to SE infections. A chronic illness weakens the immune system, making the person vulnerable to foodborne illnesses.

No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes “health food” milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not cooked. However, in-shell pasteurized eggs may be used safely without cooking.

Who is Working on Eliminating the Salmonella in Eggs?
Federal and state governments, the egg industry, and the scientific community are working together to solve the problem. Involved government agencies include: USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and State departments of agriculture.

Government agencies have implemented an Egg Safety Action Plan to eliminate Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses due to eggs. The Action Plan identifies the systems and practices that must be carried out in order to meet the goal of eliminating SE illnesses associated with the consumption of eggs by 2010.

What is Candling?
Candling is the process of using light to help determine the quality of an egg. Automated mass-scanning equipment is used by most egg packers to detect eggs with cracked shells and interior defects. During candling, eggs travel along a conveyor belt and pass over a light source where the defects become visible. Defective eggs are removed. Hand candling—holding a shell egg directly in front of a light source—is done to spot check and determine accuracy in grading. Advanced technology, utilizing computerized integrated cameras and sound wave technology, is also being applied for the segregation of eggs.

How Are Eggs Transported Safely to Stores?
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s 1990 Sanitary Food Transportation Act requires that vehicles be dedicated to transporting food only. On August 27, 1999, FSIS made effective a new rule requiring:

  • Shell eggs packed for consumers be stored and transported under refrigeration at an ambient (surrounding) air temperature not to exceed 45 °F;
  • All packed shell eggs be labeled with a statement that refrigeration is required;
  • Any shell eggs imported into the United States, packed for consumer use, include a certification that they have been stored and transported at an ambient temperature of no greater than 45 °F.


What Is Included Under the Egg Products Inspection Act?
The term “egg products” refers to eggs that have been removed from their shells for processing at facilities called “breaker plants.” The safety of these products is the responsibility of FSIS. Basic egg products include whole eggs, whites, yolks, and various blends—with or without non-egg ingredients—that are processed and pasteurized. They may be available in liquid, frozen, and dried forms. Most are not available in supermarkets, but are used in restaurants, hospitals, and other foodservice establishments as well as by bakers, noodle makers, and other food manufacturers.

Egg products are pasteurized. The 1970 Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) requires that all egg products distributed for consumption be pasteurized. They are rapidly heated and held at a minimum required temperature for a specified time. This destroys Salmonella, but it does not cook the eggs or affect their color, flavor, nutritional value, or use. Dried eggs are pasteurized by heating in the dried form.

While inspected pasteurized egg products are used to make freeze-dried egg products, imitation egg products, and egg substitutes, these products are not covered under the EPIA and are under FDA jurisdiction. No-cholesterol egg substitutes consist of egg whites, artificial color, and other non-egg additives.

Can Shell Eggs Be Pasteurized?
Shell eggs can be pasteurized by a processor if FDA approves the process. Pasteurized shell eggs are now available at some grocery stores. The equipment to pasteurize shell eggs isn’t available for home use, and it is not possible to pasteurize shell eggs at home without cooking the contents of the egg.

Are Powdered Egg Whites Pasteurized?
Yes. Egg white powder is dried egg white (pure albumen). It can be reconstituted by mixing the powder with water. The reconstituted powder whips like fresh egg white and, because it is pasteurized, can be used safely without cooking or baking it. The product is usually sold along with supplies for cake baking and decorating.

What Points Should You Consider When Buying Eggs?
Always purchase eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Don’t buy out-of-date eggs. Look for the USDA grade shield or mark. Graded eggs must meet standards for quality and size. Choose the size most useful and economical for you.

Is Grading of Eggs Mandatory?
USDA’s grading service is voluntary; egg packers who request it, pay for it. 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 trained USDA grader. Compliance with quality standards, grades, and weights is monitored by USDA. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service. These cartons will bear a term such as “Grade A” on their cartons without the USDA shield.


What Are Egg Grades?
There are 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).

  • U.S. Grade AA eggs have whites that are thick and firm; yolks that are high, round, and practically free from defects; and clean, unbroken shells. Grade AA and Grade A eggs are best for frying and poaching where appearance is important.
  • U.S. Grade A eggs have characteristics of Grade AA eggs except that the whites are “reasonably” firm. This is the quality most often sold in stores.
  • U.S. Grade B eggs have whites that may be thinner and yolks that may be wider and flatter than eggs of higher grades. The shells must be unbroken, but may show slight stains. This quality is seldom found in retail stores because they are usually used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products.

Sizing of Eggs
Size tells you the minimum required net weight per dozen eggs. It does not refer to the dimensions of an egg or how big it looks. While some eggs in the carton may look slightly larger or smaller than the rest, it is the total weight of the dozen eggs that puts them in one of the following classes:

Size or Weight Class Minimum net weight per dozen
Jumbo 30 ounces
Extra Large 27 ounces
Large 24 ounces
Medium 21 ounces
Small 18 ounces
Peewee 15 ounces



Dating of Cartons

Many eggs reach stores only a few days after the hen lays them. Egg cartons with the USDA grade shield on them must display the “pack date” (the day that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton). The number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year (the “Julian Date”) starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365. When a “sell-by” date appears on a carton bearing the USDA grade shield, the code date may not exceed 45 days from the date of pack.

Use of either a “sell-by” or “Expiration” (EXP) date is not federally required, but may be State required, defined by the egg laws in the State where the eggs are marketed. Some State egg laws do not allow the use of a “sell-by” date. Always purchase eggs before the “sell-by” or “EXP” date on the carton.

After the eggs reach home, they may be refrigerated 3 to 5 weeks from the day they are placed in the refrigerator. The “sell-by” date will usually expire during that length of time, but the eggs are perfectly safe to use.

Why Should Eggs Be Refrigerated?
Temperature fluctuation is critical to safety. With the concern about Salmonella, eggs gathered from laying hens should be refrigerated as soon as possible. After eggs are refrigerated, they need to stay that way. A cold egg left out at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than 2 hours.

Should You Wash Eggs?
No. When the egg is laid, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. At the plant, government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using special detergent. Then the egg is coated with a tasteless, natural mineral oil to protect it.

Why Do Hard-Cooked Eggs Spoil Faster than Fresh Eggs?
When shell eggs are hard cooked, the protective coating is washed away, leaving bare the pores in the shell for bacteria to enter and contaminate it. Hard-cooked eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking and used within a week.

Safe Storage in Stores
At the store, choose Grade A or AA eggs with clean, uncracked shells. Make sure they’ve been refrigerated in the store. Any bacteria present in an egg can multiply quickly at room temperature. When purchasing egg products or substitutes, look for containers that are tightly sealed.

Bringing Eggs Home from the Store
Take eggs straight home and store them immediately in the refrigerator set at 40 °F or below. Keep them in their carton and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door. Don’t wash eggs. That could remove the protective mineral oil coating and increase the potential for bacteria on the shell to enter the egg.

Is It Safe to Use Eggs That Have Cracks?
Bacteria can enter eggs through cracks in the shell. Never purchase cracked eggs. However, if eggs crack on the way home from the store, break them into a clean container, cover it tightly, keep refrigerated, and use within 2 days. If eggs crack during hard cooking, they are safe.

How Are Eggs Handled Safely?
Proper refrigeration, cooking, and handling should prevent most egg-safety problems. Persons can enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs if these safe handling guidelines are followed:

  • Wash utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs.
  • Don’t keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.
  • Raw eggs and other ingredients, combined according to recipe directions, should be cooked immediately or refrigerated and cooked within 24 hours.
  • Serve cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use within 3 to 4 days.


Are Easter Eggs Safe?
Sometimes eggs are decorated, used as decorations, and hunted at Easter. Here are some safety tips for Easter eggs.

  • Dyeing eggs: After hard cooking eggs, dye them and return them to the refrigerator within 2 hours. If eggs are to be eaten, use a food-safe coloring. As with all foods, persons dyeing the eggs should wash their hands before handling the eggs.
  • Decorations: One Easter bread recipe is decorated with dyed, cooked eggs in the braided bread. After baking, serve within 2 hours or refrigerate and use within 3 to 4 days.
  • Blowing out eggshells: Because some raw eggs may contain Salmonella, you must use caution when blowing out the contents to hollow out the shell for decorating, such as for Ukranian Easter eggs. Use only eggs that have been kept refrigerated and are uncracked. To destroy bacteria that may be present on the surface of the egg, wash the egg in hot water and then rinse in a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per half cup of water. After blowing out the egg, refrigerate the contents and use within 2 to 4 days.
  • Hunting Eggs: Hard-cooked eggs for an egg hunt must be prepared with care to prevent cracking the shells. If the shells crack, bacteria could contaminate the inside. Eggs should be hidden in places that are protected from dirt, pets, and other sources of bacteria. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed 2 hours. The “found” eggs must be re-refrigerated and eaten within 7 days of cooking.


Does the Color of the Shell Affect the Egg’s Nutrients?
No. The breed of the hen determines the color of her eggs.

Araucuna chickens in South America lay eggs that range in color from medium blue to medium green. Nutrition claims that araucuna eggs contain less cholesterol than other eggs haven’t been proven.

Are Fertilized Eggs More Nutritious?
No. There is no benefit in eating fertilized eggs. There is no nutritional difference in fertilized eggs and infertile eggs. Most eggs sold today are infertile; roosters are not housed with the laying hens. If the eggs are fertile and cell development is detected during the candling process, they are removed from commerce.

Per Capita Consumption
Egg consumption in America was on a 40-year downward slide until the 1990’s. Then eggs became increasingly popular. The following figures are from USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Year 1950 = 389 per Person
Year 1990 = 236 per Person
Year 2004 = 256 per Person


Is the Appearance of Eggs Related to Food Safety?
Sometimes, but not usually. Variation in egg color is due to many factors.

  • Blood spots are caused by a rupture of one or more small blood vessels in the yolk at the time of ovulation. It does not indicate the egg is unsafe.
  • A cloudy white (albumen) is a sign the egg is very fresh. A clear egg white is an indication the egg is aging.
  • Pink or iridescent egg white (albumen) indicates spoilage due to Pseudomonas bacteria. Some of these microorganisms—which produce a greenish, fluorescent, water-soluble pigment—are harmful to humans.
  • The color of yolk varies in shades of yellow depending upon the diet of the hen. If she eats plenty of yellow-orange plant pigments, such as from marigold petals and yellow corn, the yolk will be a darker yellow than if she eats a colorless diet such as white cornmeal. Artificial color additives are not permitted in eggs.
  • A green ring on a hard-cooked yolk is a result of overcooking, and is caused by sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting on the yolk’s surface. The green color can also be caused by a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Scrambled eggs cooked at too high a temperature or held on a steam table too long can also develop a greenish cast. The green color is safe to consume.


How Do Time and Refrigeration Affect Egg Quality?
The egg, as laid at 105 °F, normally has no air cell. As the egg cools, an air cell forms usually in the large end of the egg and develops between the two shell membranes. The air cell is formed as a result of the different rates of contraction between the shell and its contents.

Over time, the white and yolk of an egg lose quality. The yolk absorbs water from the white. Moisture and carbon dioxide in the white evaporate through the pores, allowing more air to penetrate the shell, and the air cell becomes larger. If broken open, the egg’s contents would cover a wider area. The white would be thinner, losing some of its thickening and leavening powers. The yolk would be flatter, larger and more easily broken. The chalazae (kah-LAY-zuh), the twisted cord-like strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in the center of the white, would be less prominent and weaker, allowing the yolk to move off center. Refrigeration slows the loss of quality over time.

What Does It Mean When an Egg Floats in Water?
An egg can float in water when its air cell has enlarged sufficiently to keep it buoyant. This means the egg is old, but it may be perfectly safe to use. Crack the egg into a bowl and examine it for an off-odor or unusual appearance before deciding to use or discard it. A spoiled egg will have an unpleasant odor when you break open the shell, either when raw or cooked.

Safe Cooking Methods
Many cooking methods can be used to cook eggs safely including poaching, hard cooking, scrambling, frying and baking. However, eggs must be cooked thoroughly until yolks are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 °F. Use a food thermometer to be sure.

Use Safe Egg Recipes
Egg mixtures are safe if they reach 160 °F, so homemade ice cream and eggnog can be made safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture. Heat it gently and use a food thermometer.

  • Dry meringue shells are safe. So are divinity candy and 7-minute frosting, made by combining hot sugar syrup with beaten egg whites. Avoid icing recipes using uncooked eggs or egg whites.
  • Meringue-topped pies should be safe if baked at 350 °F for about 15 minutes. Chiffon pies and fruit whips made with raw, beaten egg whites cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Instead, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream, or a whipped topping.
  • To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren’t cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.
  • To determine doneness in egg dishes such as quiche and casseroles, the center of the mixture should reach 160 °F when measured with a food thermometer.


What Makes Hard-Cooked Eggs Hard to Peel?
The fresher the egg, the more difficult it is to peel after hard cooking. That’s because the air cell, found at the large end of the shell between the shell membranes, increases in size the longer the raw egg is stored. As the contents of the egg contracts and the air cell enlarges, the shell becomes easier to peel. For this reason, older eggs make better candidates for hard cooking.

What Are Thousand-Year-Old Eggs?
These Chinese eggs are not really 1,000 years old, but are somewhere between a month and several years old. The egg is not retained in its original state, but rather converted into an entirely different food, probably by bacterial action. They are exempt from inspection and grading. The following are several types of thousand-year-old Chinese eggs.

“Hulidan” results when eggs are individually coated with a mixture of salt and wet clay or ashes for a month. This process darkens and partially solidifies the yolks, and gives the eggs a salty taste.

“Dsaudan” eggs are packed in cooked rice and salt for at least 6 months. During this time, the shell softens, the membranes thicken, and the egg contents coagulate. The flavor is wine-like.

“Pidan,” a great delicacy, is made by covering eggs with lime, salt, wood ashes, and a tea infusion for 5 months or more. The egg yolks become greenish gray and the albumen turns into a coffee-brown jelly. Pidan smell ammonia-like and taste like lime.

Do Pickled Eggs Keep a Long Time?
Pickled eggs are hard-cooked eggs marinated in vinegar and pickling spices, spicy cider, or juice from pickles or pickled beets. Studies done at the American Egg Board substantiate that unopened containers of commercially pickled eggs keep for several months on the shelf. After opening, keep refrigerated and use within 7 days. Home-prepared pickled eggs must be kept refrigerated and used within 7 days. Home canning of pickled eggs is not recommended.


Egg Storage Chart

Product Refrigerator Freezer
Raw eggs in shell 3 to 5 weeks Do not freeze.
Raw egg whites 2 to 4 days 12 months
Raw egg yolks 2 to 4 days Yolks do not freeze well.
Raw egg accidentally frozen in shell Use immediately after thawing. Keep frozen; then refrigerate to thaw.
Hard-cooked eggs 1 week Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
10 days Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, liquid
3 days Do not freeze.
Egg substitutes, frozen
After thawing, 7 days, or refer to “Use-By” date on carton. 12 months
Egg substitutes, frozen
After thawing, 3 days, or refer to “Use-By” date on carton. Do not freeze.
Casseroles made with eggs 3 to 4 days After baking, 2 to 3 months.
Eggnog, commercial 3 to 5 days 6 months
Eggnog, homemade 2 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Pies, pumpkin or pecan 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.
Pies, custard and chiffon 3 to 4 days Do not freeze.
Quiche with any kind of filling 3 to 4 days After baking, 1 to 2 months.





Egg Products and Food Safety

This fact sheet provides in-depth information on egg products. Liquid, frozen, and dried egg products are widely used by the foodservice industry, and can be found as ingredients in other foods.

Of the 76 billion eggs consumed in 2004, more than 30 percent were in the form of egg products (eggs removed from their shells). Liquid, frozen, and dried egg products are widely used by the foodservice industry and as ingredients in other foods, such as prepared mayonnaise and ice cream.

What Are Egg Products?
The term “egg products” refers to eggs that are removed from their shells for processing. The processing of egg products includes breaking eggs, filtering, mixing, stabilizing, blending, pasteurizing, cooling, freezing or drying, and packaging. This is done at United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-inspected plants.

Egg products include whole eggs, whites, yolks and various blends with or without non-egg ingredients that are processed and pasteurized and may be available in liquid, frozen, and dried forms.

Are Egg Products New?
Egg products are not a new invention. Commercial egg drying began in St. Louis, Missouri, about 1880. The first commercial production of frozen whole eggs began in 1903; separated eggs, in 1912. 1951 saw the first commercial egg breaking machines. No-cholesterol refrigerated or frozen egg substitutes first became available to consumers in 1973. They consist of egg whites, artificial color, and other non-egg additives. Specific questions about egg substitutes should be directed to the manufacturer or to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Who Inspects Egg Products?
Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) in 1970. The EPIA provides for the mandatory continuous inspection of the processing of liquid, frozen, and dried egg products. For the next 25 years, the Poultry Division of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service inspected egg products to ensure they were wholesome, otherwise not adulterated, and properly labeled and packaged to protect the health and welfare of consumers.

In 1995, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) became responsible for the inspection of egg products. FSIS inspects all egg products, with the exception of those products exempted under the Act, that are used by food manufacturers, foodservice, institutions, and retail markets. Officially inspected egg products will bear the USDA inspection mark. In 2004, FSIS inspected 3.2 billion pounds of egg products.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ FDA is responsible for the inspection of egg substitutes, imitation eggs, and similar products which are exempted from continuous inspection under the EPIA.

Are All Egg Products from the U.S.?
Currently, Canada is the only active exporter of egg products to the United States. The EPIA specifies that egg products may not be imported into the United States except from countries which have an egg products inspection system equivalent to that in this country.

Why Are Egg Products Useful?
Egg products are used widely by the foodservice industry and the commercial food industry. They are scrambled or made into omelets, or used as ingredients in egg dishes or other foods such as mayonnaise or ice cream. Food manufacturers use pasteurized egg products because of their convenience and ease in handling and storing. Because egg products are pasteurized, institutional foodservice operators, such as fast food chains, restaurants, hospitals, and nursing homes, use egg products to ensure a high level of food safety. Some egg products are sold in retail food stores.

How Are Egg Products Made?
Egg products are processed in sanitary facilities under continuous inspection by the USDA. The initial step in making egg products is breaking the eggs and separating the yolks and whites from the shells. Eggs are processed by automated equipment that moves the eggs from flats, washes and sanitizes the shells, breaks eggs and separates the whites and yolks, and/or makes mixtures of them. The liquid egg product is filtered, mixed, and then chilled prior to additional processing.

Why and How Are Egg Products Pasteurized?
The law requires that all egg products distributed for consumption be pasteurized. This means that they must be rapidly heated and held at a minimum required temperature for a specified time. This destroys Salmonella, but it does not cook the eggs or affect their color, flavor, nutritional value, or use. Dried whites are pasteurized by heating in the dried form, again for a specified time and at a minimum required temperature.

Since many new and different types of egg products are now being formulated, government and industry are currently evaluating the effectiveness of the pasteurization processes used for these and other products. Additional research will determine if supplemental or different safety measures are warranted to continue to provide safe egg products for foodservice, industry, and consumers.

Are All Egg Products Pasteurized?
Certain commodities are not presently considered egg products and are exempt from this law. These commodities, which are under the jurisdiction of the FDA, include freeze-dried products, imitation egg products, and egg substitutes. Inspected, pasteurized egg products are used to make these commodities, and companies may elect to re-pasteurize these products following formulation and before packaging.

Can Egg Products Be Used As An Ingredient In Uncooked Foods?
Egg products can be used in baking or cooking (scrambled eggs, for example). They are pasteurized but are best used in a cooked product, especially if serving high-risk persons, that is, infants and young children, pregnant women and their unborn babies, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and transplant patients). Use a food thermometer to be sure that the internal temperature of the cooked product reaches 160 °F.

Egg products can be substituted in recipes typically made with raw eggs that won’t be cooked (for example, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, eggnog, homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, and key lime pie). The USDA does not recommend eating raw shell eggs that are not cooked or undercooked due to the possibility that Salmonella bacteria may be present.

Buying Tips for Egg Products
Buy only pasteurized egg products that bear the USDA inspection mark. Make sure containers are tightly sealed. Frozen products should show no signs of thawing. Refrigerated products should be kept at 40 °F or below. Dried egg products should not be caked or hardened.

What is Dried Egg Mix?
USDA Dried Egg Mix is a blend of dried whole eggs, nonfat dry milk, soybean oil, and a small amount of salt. There is very little moisture in it. To reconstitute, blend 2 tablespoons of Dried Egg Mix with ¼ cup water to make the equivalent of one large whole egg.

Dried Egg Mix is packaged in 6-ounce pouches, equivalent to about 6 eggs each. It is distributed by USDA to food banks, Indian reservations, and other needy family outlets, and is also used in disaster feeding (for hurricane and flood victims, for example). Dried egg mix was initially developed for the military during the 1930’s.

A similar product called All Purpose Egg Mix, containing a greater proportion of eggs, is now being manufactured for USDA. It is reconstituted by mixing one part egg mix with two parts of water (by weight). All Purpose Egg Mix is available to schools as part of the School Lunch Program. It is packaged in 10-pound bags.

Safe Handling and Storage of Egg Products
Safe storage and handling is necessary for all egg products to prevent bacterial contamination. Here are recommendations from USDA:

  1. For best quality, store frozen egg products up to one year. Check to be sure your freezer is set at 0 °F or lower. After thawing, do not refreeze.
  2. Thaw frozen egg products in the refrigerator or under cold running water. DO NOT THAW ON THE COUNTER.
  3. If the container for liquid products bears a “use-by” date, observe it. Follow the storage and handling instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  4. For liquid products without an expiration date, store unopened containers at 40 °F or below for up to 7 days (not to exceed 3 days after opening). Do not freeze opened cartons of liquid egg products.
  5. Unopened dried egg products and egg white solids can be stored at room temperature as long as they are kept cool and dry. After opening, store in the refrigerator.
  6. Reconstituted egg products should be used immediately or refrigerated and used that day.
  7. USDA Commodity Dried Egg Mix should be stored at less than 50 °F, preferably in the refrigerator (at 40 °F or below). After opening, use within 7 to 10 days. Reconstitute only the amount needed at one time. Use reconstituted egg mix immediately or refrigerate and use within 1 hour.

Nutrition of Egg Products
Eggs are still considered one of nature’s most complete foods. With the implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in 1994, egg products sold at retail are also required to bear nutrition labeling. The “Nutrition Facts” panel will tell you the nutrient composition of that specific product per serving and its contribution to your overall diet.

Labels on Egg Products
In addition to nutrition information on consumer packages, other labeling information is required for egg products. All egg products must be labeled with:

  1. the common or usual name and (if the product is comprised of two or more ingredients) the ingredients listed in the order of descending proportions;
  2. the name and address of the packer or distributor;
  3. the date of pack which may be shown as a lot number or production code number;
  4. the net contents;
  5. the official USDA inspection mark and establishment number.



Playing It Safe With Eggs – What You Need to Know

To avoid the possibility of foodborne illness, fresh eggs must be handled carefully. Even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain bacteria called Salmonella that can cause an intestinal infection. The most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs—or foods that contain them—safely. That is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella must carry the following safe handling statement:

Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly. The Safe Handling Statement must appear on all cartons of untreated shell eggs

Following these instructions is important for everyone but especially for those most vulnerable to foodborne disease—children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems due to steroid use, conditions such as AIDS, cancer or diabetes, or such treatments as chemotherapy for cancer or immune suppression because of organ transplants.

Eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella—by in-shell pasteurization, for example—are not required to carry safe handling instructions.

Buy Right

  • Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case. – The FDA also requires that untreated shell eggs sold at stores, roadside stands, etc., must be stored and displayed under refrigeration at 45° F (7° C).
  • Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
  • Refrigerate promptly.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Keep Everything Clean
Before preparing any food, remember that cleanliness is key!

  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods

Cook Thoroughly
Thorough cooking is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe.

  • Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
  • Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F (72°C). Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served—Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples—use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, by pasteurization or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products. Treated shell eggs are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled, while pasteurized egg products are widely available.

Serve Safely
Bacteria can multiply in temperatures from 40°F (5°C) to 140°F (60°C), so it’s very important to serve foods safely.

  • Serve cooked eggs and egg-containing foods immediately after cooking.
  • For buffet-style serving, hot egg dishes should be kept hot, and cold egg dishes kept cold.
  • Eggs and egg dishes, such as quiches or soufflés, may be refrigerated for serving later but should be thoroughly reheated to 165°F (74°C) before serving.

Chill Properly

  • Cooked eggs, including hard-boiled eggs, and egg-containing foods should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Within 2 hours either reheat or refrigerate.
  • Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking
  • Use frozen eggs within one year. Eggs should not be frozen in their shells. To freeze whole eggs, beat yolks and whites together. Egg whites can also be frozen by themselves.
  • Refrigerate leftover cooked egg dishes and use within 3-4 days. When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.

On the Road

  • Cooked eggs for a picnic should be packed in an insulated cooler with enough ice or frozen gel packs to keep them cold.
  • Don’t put the cooler in the trunk—carry it in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of the car.
  • If taking cooked eggs to work or school, pack them with a small frozen gel pack or a frozen juice box



FDA Publishes Final Guidance on the Egg Safety Rule

December 27, 2011

The Food and Drug Administration today published final guidance for egg producers to help them further comply with the FDA egg safety rule. The guidance entitled: “Guidance for Industry: Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation” was initially published as draft for comment on August 12, 2010.

The guidance provides recommendations on the following provisions of the final rule: Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) prevention measures; environmental testing for SE; egg testing for SE; sampling methodology for SE; and recordkeeping requirements for the SE prevention plan. While the rule lists the measures producers must take to comply with the rule, the guidance offers more specific recommendations and options for several of the measures. The final guidance differs from the draft guidance in that it addresses environmental sampling plans for a variety of poultry house styles, as requested by commenters.

The FDA issued the egg safety rule in July 2009, requiring egg producers to have preventive measures in place on the farm during the production of shell eggs and subsequent refrigeration during storage and transportation.

On July 9, 2010, the new food safety requirements became effective for egg producers having 50,000 or more laying hens, which represents about 80 percent of production. Producers with at least 3,000 but fewer than 50,000 laying hens must comply with the new rule by July 2012.

Scroll to Top