Frequently Asked Questions

What about cholesterol?

This is an interesting issue that has possibly incorrectly implicated eggs. There are two kinds of cholesterol: blood serum and dietary. Blood cholesterol is naturally occurring and can increase risk of heart disease. Dietary cholesterol comes from food we eat, like meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood. Our bodies do not automatically convert dietary cholesterol to blood cholesterol. Research shows that dietary cholesterol does not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels in most people. Saturated fats seem to be a bigger culprit. Recent studies published in an American Heart Association journal showed that 20 healthy young men and 13 healthy young women with normal blood cholesterol levels were able to consume up to two eggs per day while on a low-fat diet without significantly raising their blood cholesterol levels. The outcome of this study suggests that an egg or two daily may be acceptable for people with normal blood cholesterol levels. (Courtesy of the American Egg Board at www.aeb.org)

What is the best way to store eggs?

It’s best to store eggs in their original carton that shows the Sell-by (or Best-by or Exp date) on a shelf in the fridge. If eggs are not stored in their original carton (in a refrigerator door), there is no way of knowing their age, and they can absorb odors from other foods.

How long are eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?

Raw eggs maintain their freshness for 4-5 weeks after purchase if kept refrigerated continuously.

How do I know if an egg is fresh?

There are a few ways to tell if an egg is fresh. The thicker the white of the egg, the fresher; the more firm or higher the yolk stands up, the fresher the egg. A fun test for egg freshness is to put an egg in water. If it sinks and rests horizontally, it is very fresh. If the larger end starts to rise, your egg is typically one to two weeks old. An egg that floats is a very old egg.

How long are hard cooked eggs that have been refrigerated, safe to eat?

A hard cooked egg can safely be refrigerated for up to one week.

What is the white string-like substance in my egg?

This is called the chalazae. It is a ropey strand of egg white which anchors the yolk in place in the center of the thick white. They are neither imperfections nor beginning embryos. The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. Chalazae do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard.

Why do I sometimes find blood spots in eggs?

This is rare, and happens when a blood vessel ruptures during the production of an egg. The egg is still edible, and the easiest way to remove the spot is with the tip of a knife. Blood spots are not signs of fertility and they do not mean the egg is bad.

Why do some eggs have darker yolks?

Yolk color is determined by what a chicken eats. Thus, a darker yolk usually means a diet that contains more corn or alfalfa in the feed. Yolk color does not affect nutritive value or cooking characteristics. Egg yolks are a rich source of vitamin A regardless of color.

What is the green ring that occurs after hard-boiling an egg?

This is a chemical reaction caused by overcooking eggs or cooling them too slowly.

Are your eggs Fertile?

No. Roosters (males) are not allowed in our hen houses.

Why are there different eggshell colors?

The breed of the chicken determines shell color of an egg. Generally speaking brown chickens lay brown eggs and white chickens lay white eggs.

What is a double yolk?

A double yolk occurs in an egg when a chicken releases two yolks into the same shell. These eggs are perfectly safe to eat, and are said to bring good luck when you find them. In fact, you may occasionally find an S&R egg with three or even four yolks – if you’re lucky!

Can I eat raw eggs?

It is not recommended. Proper refrigeration and thoroughly cooking the eggs is always better.

How can I tell if an egg is already boiled?

Spin it on a countertop. If it spins quickly, it is boiled; if it spins slowly, it is not boiled. Try it! There will be no question when you do this test.

What are the different types of egg production?

Modern Cage Production
This method consists of placing the hens in wire cages with feed and water being provided to each cage. The birds are housed with several hens in each cage, with plenty of space for comfortable movement and easy access to food and water. The cages are arranged in rows which are placed on leg supports or suspended from the ceiling. Water is supplied by individual cup waterers or a long trough outside the cages extending the length of the row of cages. The feed trough is also located outside the cages and runs parallel to the water trough on the opposite side of each cage and the hens are fed a balanced diet with just the right combination of nutrients to keep them healthy and productive. Our birds are never fed hormones or steroids. The cages are designed so the eggs will roll out of the cage to a holding area by means of a slanted wire floor. Special tunnel ventilation produces a steady 10mph breeze for lots of fresh air, which fluffs the feathers and carries away body heat as well as manure smells.

Cage-Free Production
Cage-free birds are kept in large heated and air-cooled growing houses where they can roost and socialize freely, participating in their chicken behaviors and pecking orders, and laying their eggs in dark, quiet nests. Hens are required to have at least 1.3 square feet per bird floor space in the henhouse. Their eggs are gathered straight from the nest, placed in a cooler, and then processed. Because cage-free hens are allowed to roam free in the hen house, cage-free production is more labor-intensive and land-intensive which accounts for the higher price of eggs from cage-free hens.

Organic Eggs
Organic Eggs are produced by hens that receive a special diet and special treatment. The hens that lay the organic eggs are also cage-free birds, meaning they are free to roam throughout their henhouse – entering and leaving their nests at will. Hens are required to have at least 1.3 square feet per bird floor space in the henhouse. They also have access to the outdoors when seasonable appropriate. They eat only pesticide-free 100% organic feeds from the day of their birth; neither the hens nor their feed can be subjected to antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or herbicides. If access to pasture is not feasible, flocks must be fed sprouted grains or fresh plants or hay on a daily basis. Their eggs are gathered straight from the nest, placed in a cooler, and then processed.

What's the difference between a cage-free and a free-range hen?

Cage-free hens are generally not housed in modern production systems. Usually, cage-free hens live on the floor of a barn or poultry house. The movement for lower cost cage free eggs is beginning impact the development of large scale housing systems.  The nutrient content of eggs from cage-free hens is the same as those from hens housed in modern production facilities with cages. Free-range eggs (or free-roaming) are eggs from hens that live outdoors or have access to the outdoors. Again, the nutrient content of these eggs is the same as those from hens housed in modern cage or cage-free systems.

Do your inject your hens with hormones?

No, growth hormones are never fed to pullets being grown for egg-laying hens nor during the egg-laying period. We feed our hens a high quality, nutritionally balanced diet made up of mostly corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. The feed is carefully formulated with the proper nutrients to produce quality eggs.

What is beak-trimming?

UEP Certified guidelines recommend beak trimming for cage and cage-free production only when necessary to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism and only when carried out by properly trained and monitored personnel. Some of the advantages of beak trimming include reduced pecking, reduced feather pulling, reduced cannibalism, better feather condition, less fearfulness, less nervousness, less chronic stress and decreased mortality.

What does it mean if I have a United Egg Producers Certified logo on my egg carton?

To identify eggs in the marketplace as having been produced by UEP Certified companies, a logo has been developed and made available to our egg farmers for use on their egg packaging. A Certified company may use the UEP Certified logo only on those eggs or egg products produced by UEP Certified companies.

What is candling?

Candling is the process of inspecting the quality of the interior and exterior of each egg, both by the human eye and with a computer. This function occurs after the egg has been washed and the shell sealed with a protective mist of mineral oil and water. Electronic candling systems help ensure that our eggs are clean and crack-free, and rapid processing on automated equipment helps preserve freshness.

How is egg size determined?

Size represents the minimum net weight per dozen. In descending order, egg sizes are Jumbo (30 ounces per dozen), Extra Large (27 ounces), Large (24 ounces), Medium (21 ounces), Small (18 ounces) and Peewee (15 ounces). Medium, Large and Extra Large are the sizes most commonly available because these are the sizes hens most often lay.

Size classifications were established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and have been the same for decades. You may find some eggs in a dozen that seem a bit larger or smaller than the others, though. Hens operate according to nature and seldom produce perfectly matched cartons. No matter how big or small the eggs look, however, you’re getting your money’s worth. Automatic weighing equipment is programmed to provide at least the minimum weight, or more.

What is grade classification?

Grade classification is determined by the interior and exterior quality of the egg at the time it is packed. In the grading process, eggs are examined for both interior and exterior quality before they’re sorted according to weight (size). Grade quality and size are not related to one another. In descending order of quality, grades are designated AA, A and B. More detailed information about egg grading is available at

http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/g/grading

What does the date on the egg carton mean?

Egg cartons with the USDA grademark must display a Julian date – the date the eggs were packed. Although not required, they may also carry an expiration date beyond which the eggs should not be sold, but are still safe to eat. On cartons with the USDA grademark, this date can not exceed 30 days after the eggs were packed in the carton. Depending on the retailer, the expiration date may be less than 30 days. Eggs packed in cartons without the USDA grademark are governed by the laws of their states.

Julian date: usually located on the short side of the carton and represents the consecutive days of the year with the number 001 as January 1 and December 31 as 365.

How does Salmonella infect eggs?

Salmonella bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of animals, birds, reptiles, insects and humans. Salmonella may be found on the outside of the egg shell before the egg is washed or it may be found inside the egg if the hen was infected. It is estimated that one egg in 20,000 eggs may contain Salmonella which is a 0.005% contamination rate. Eggs contain natural antimicrobial substances in the egg white, and all eggs are washed and sanitized before they are packed. Egg recipes properly prepared in individual servings and promptly eaten are rarely a problem. Inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking are all factors that have contributed to disease outbreaks. Salmonella is destroyed by heat. Eggs that have been handled and cooked properly should not cause human illness.

Is the appearance of an egg related to food safety?

Variation in egg color is due to many factors. A cloudy egg white is a sign that the egg is very fresh. A clear egg white is an indication that the egg is aging. Pink or iridescent egg white indicates spoilage and should not be consumed. A rupture of one or more small blood vessels in the yolk may cause blood spots at the time of ovulation. It does not indicate the egg is unsafe to eat. The color of the yolk varies in shades of yellow depending upon the diet of the hen. If she eats plenty of yellow/orange plants the yolk with be a darker yellow than if she eats white cornmeal, a colorless diet. A green ring on a hard cooked yolk is the 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 held too long on a steam table or at too high a temperature can also develop a green tint. The green color is safe to eat.

What should I consider when purchasing eggs?

Always buy eggs from a refrigerated case. Choose eggs with clean, crack free shells. Don’t buy out of date eggs. The USDA grade shield on the carton means that the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. State agencies monitor compliance for egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service. Remember to always check for the “UEP Certified” logo.

What is an adequate temperature to cook an egg?

Egg white coagulates between 144 and 149°F, egg yolk coagulates between 149 and 158°F and whole eggs between 144 and 158°F. Plain whole eggs without added ingredients are pasteurized but not cooked by bringing them to 140°F and maintaining that temperature for 3 and 1/2 minutes. According to the FDA Food Code, eggs for immediate consumption can be cooked to 145°F for 15 seconds. If the eggs are to be used in a recipe with other food items, dilute the eggs with liquid or other ingredients, such as milk, or sugar (at least ¼ cup liquid or sugar per egg as in custard) and cook the egg mixture to 160°F, which will destroy harmful bacteria in a few seconds. Adequate cooking brings eggs and other foods to a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that might be present.

Can raw eggs be frozen?

Yes, eggs can be frozen. Egg whites and whole eggs (whites + yolks) that are blended together survive the freeze/thaw process just fine. Egg yolks frozen without salt or sugar become very rubbery and gelatinous and will be difficult to incorporate into a recipe. The link attached explains how much salt/sugar should be added to prevent gelation: http://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-facts/eggcyclopedia/f/freezing-eggs

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