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 defective eggs.
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.
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.
Cloudiness of raw white is due to the natural presence of carbon dioxide that 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 1 or 2 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 1 week.
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.
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 Grademark 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 Grademark shield. This is called the "Pack Date.” The number is a 3-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year. For example, January 1 is shown as "001" and December 31 as "365."
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. during the late 1980s 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 on the shell, 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 that 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."
The Asian form of Avian Influenza (strain H5N1) has never occurred in the United States. 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.
There's a "bowl test" you can use to see how fresh an egg really is. For the "bowl test," fill a bowl with water and drop the egg into it. If an egg is fresh, it will immediately sink to the bottom and lie flat on its side. As it begins to lose freshness, the egg will point toward the surface until the smaller end is no longer touching the bottom of the bowl. Discard the egg if it is completely floating in the water.
"The Avian Egg" indicates that abnormal yolk shapes are the result of variations in strength of the vitelline membrane that surrounds the yolk. Weaker parts of the membrane allow the yolk to bulge out to form the corners of the square. These formations are very rare and can be heart-shaped, U-shaped, triangular, etc. It is possible that a certain hen always produces yolks in this unusual shape.
This abnormality would not affect the safety of the eggs.
About 25-30% of brown eggs, irrespective of brand, typically have what are referred to as pigment or protein spots next to the yolk or floating in the albumen. If you look very closely at white eggs, you will see that they have similar particles of protein floating around, but the hens lack the brown pigment in their system that combines with the protein to make them stand out. The spots are not an indication of fertility and they do not contain any blood cells, as would a true blood spot. The spots can be removed with the tip of a knife, if preferred, but they are also perfectly safe to leave. The red-colored blood spots are also safe, but most people prefer to discard bloodspot eggs. It is difficult to detect interior defects when shining a candling light through a brown-shelled egg, so bloodspots are also more frequently found by consumers in brown eggs than whites. There is probably a 1 in 3000 chance of finding a blood spot in a white egg and 1 in 1000 chance in a brown egg.
The American Egg Board Eggcyclopedia provides the following information regarding blood spots:
"Blood spots: Occasionally found on an egg yolk. These tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Instead, 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. Mass candling methods reveal most eggs with blood and those eggs are removed. However, even with mass scanners, it's impossible to catch them all. Both chemically and nutritionally, eggs with blood spots are fit to eat. You can remove the spot with the tip of a knife, if you wish."
The short answer is "none." Generally speaking, hens with white feathers (such as White Leghorns) lay white eggs and hens with reddish brown feathers (such as Rhode Island Reds) lay brown eggs. Shell color has little relationship to egg quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics, or shell strength.
The color of brown eggs is a natural pigment placed by the hen on the surface of the shell during the final stages of egg formation. From the inside, the shell appears white. The outer shell color can vary from light to dark brown, depending on the breed of the hen and also on individual hen characteristics.