Eggs in General
Everything you ever wanted to know about eggs.
Q. 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.
Q. What is the source of yolk color?
Yolk color in eggs is directly linked to the diet of the hens. Eggland's Best yolks will usually be darker than ordinary eggs because our hen feed includes corn and alfalfa meal. Eggland's Best also incorporates approved natural-source pigments in diets derived from marigold petals or red peppers. Yellow and red pigments are related to Vitamin A and Lutein and are nutritious. Our eggs are routinely screened to ensure that the yolks have a deep yellow color.
Q. What is the white spot on the surface of the yolk?
The white spot on the yolk is called the germinal disc. Fertilization takes place through the germinal disc.
Since EB eggs are not fertilized, no embryonic development can take place.
Q. What are the white filaments attached to either end of the yolk?
These structures, called chalazae, are twisted strands of egg white that anchor the yolk in place. A more pronounced chalazae indicates a fresher egg. Fresh eggs which have been refrigerated may not have prominent chalazae but this does not indicate that they have aged. The freshness of an egg is indicated by the date imprinted on the side of the carton.
Q. Why is an egg white sometimes cloudy?
Cloudiness of raw white is due to the natural presence of carbon dioxide which has not had time to escape through the shell and is an indication of a very fresh egg. As an egg ages, the carbon dioxide escapes and the egg white becomes more transparent.
Q. 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 our egg packers to detect eggs with cracked shells and/or 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 by trained operators.
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.
Q. What are blood spots and meat spots?
The American Egg Board website www.aeb.org offers the following information on blood spots - also called meat spots - occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular belief, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg or the presence of a disease. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots.
Candling methods reveal most eggs with blood spots and those eggs are removed but, even with electronic spotters, it is impossible to catch all of them in the candling process, especially in brown eggs due to the darker color shell. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.
Q. What are gray lines on the surface of shells?
These grayish lines are referred to as "cage marks", not cracks. Sometimes when eggs are freshly laid, contact with the cage wire will draw moisture toward that part of the shell. The moisture is retained in that part of the shell and results in a grayish appearance. Dust particles can cause similar moisture retention, resulting in grayish spots or "mottling". These eggs are fine for consumption.
Q. What are the lines around the mid-section of the shell?
Lines that look similar to spider webs around the mid-section of the shell are body checks. These are caused by damage to the shell during formation inside the hen. Although the damage is repaired, the cracks are still visible. The shells are still strong and safe.
Q. Why are some hard-cooked eggs difficult to peel?
Hard-cooked eggs may be difficult to peel if they are very fresh. This is because an egg shrinks inside during storage, which pulls the inner membrane away from the inside of the shell. For this reason, a hard-cooked egg will peel more easily if it has been stored for one or two weeks before it is cooked.
After boiling the eggs, crack the shell all over by tapping gently, then hold under running water to make peeling easier. Eggs may also be harder to peel if they are not cooked long enough. Hard cooked eggs should be kept refrigerated and used within one week.
Q. What is the green ring around the yolk in hard-cooked eggs?
The greenish color around the yolk of hard-cooked eggs is a natural result of sulfur and iron reacting at the surface of the yolk. It may occur when eggs are cooked too long or at too high of temperature, or when there is a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Although the color may be unappealing, the eggs are still wholesome and nutritious and their flavor is unaffected. Greenish yolks can best be avoided by using the proper cooking time and temperature (avoid intense boiling), and by rapidly cooling the cooked eggs. Occasionally scrambled eggs can develop a greenish tint if over-cooked at too high of a temperature or are left too long in a metal pan.
Q. What is the USDA seal for grading of eggs and how does the Pack Date determine the age of the egg?
Eggland's Best participates in the voluntary USDA program of Grading for quality and egg size, and Eggland's Best production facilities conform to USDA requirements for construction, equipment and hygienic operation. The USDA grade seal shows that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight (size) under the supervision of a trained USDA grader.
Determining the age of an egg is simple with Eggland's Best eggs. The day of the year that the eggs are processed and placed into the carton must be shown on each carton with the USDA grade shield. This is called the "Pack Date."The number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year. For example, January 1 is shown as "001" and December 31 as "365."
Q. What is Salmonella and should I be concerned about eating eggs?
Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) is an egg-borne infection where bacteria can be found on the outside or inside of a shell egg. It emerged in the U.S.A. during the late 1980's and is now strictly controlled and prevented by a number of procedures.
Eggland's Best requires that all flocks should be purchased from hatcheries complying with the requirements of the National Poultry Improvement Program administered by the USDA. This certifies freedom from vertically transmitted SE infection.
All flocks producing Eggland's Best product are vaccinated during the rearing period. A comprehensive testing program is followed to ensure that flocks are free of infection. An important component of the SE prevention program involves washing the eggs in a warm sanitizing solution, which effectively destroys any viral and bacterial contamination, and keeping eggs refrigerated from the time of packing through to point of sale.
Consumers are advised to refrigerate eggs and to follow good kitchen practices in preparing eggs and recipes containing eggs. Yolks or whites which are "runny" are not adequately cooked.
We advise to avoid eating raw or undercooked egg yolks and whites or products containing raw or undercooked eggs. Follow the Safe Handling Instructions on the carton. "To prevent illness from bacteria: Keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly."
Q. What is Avian Influenza (bird flu)?
The Asian form of Avian Influenza (strain H5N1) has never occurred in the United States and studies indicate that current surveillance and import restrictions should exclude this disease from the Western hemisphere. In the event of an outbreak, the USDA has developed comprehensive early detection and response programs which will result in prompt isolation and depletion of affected flocks.
There is no evidence that avian influenza has ever been transmitted to consumers through commercially produced eggs.
Avian Influenza is generally not transmitted through eggs and the virus is destroyed during cooking. Eggland's Best has imposed strict standards of surveillance and biosecurity to protect flocks and ensure the wholesomeness of eggs marketed under the Eggland's Best brand.