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item Jones, Deana

Submitted to: World's Poultry Science Journal
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/7/2006
Publication Date: 9/11/2006
Citation: Jones, D.R., Anderson, K.E. 2006. Obstacles in egg quality assessment. World's Poultry Science Journal. European Poultry Conference, Verona, Italy, 10-14 September, 2006, Poster Session. EPC Proceedings (

Interpretive Summary: The quality of eggs plays a major role in sales. Therefore, it is important for producers to have an understanding of the quality of the product they produce and the factors which affect that quality. Ultimately, “quality” is defined by the customer and their intended use for the product. Assessing egg quality has been a continual challenge for the egg industry. Many methods are subjective and make comparing results difficult. Objective methods often involve cost prohibitive equipment or supplies. The natural variability of eggs also creates challenges in assessing egg quality. Determining the best physical orientation of the egg for each test should be addressed. There are many instances where multiple laboratories have conducting the same method, with the same equipment, but have placed the egg in different orientations, thus inhibiting the ability to directly compare the results. Furthermore, with eggs being variable on their own, it raises even more need for consistent testing methods between laboratories. Ideal assessment methods would be cost effective, rapid, reproducible, and accurate. Hand candling and Haugh unit are the most common methods for physical quality detection. Yolk index, albumen index, vitelline membrane strength, shell breaking strength and numerous other factors are often monitored for quality assurance. Functional quality is especially important for egg products. This review will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of the more common quality and functional assessment methods.

Technical Abstract: The physical quality of an egg has long been an identified concern for consumers. Throughout the years, methods have been developed to assess egg quality in order to quantitate changes due to hen age, egg storage, genetic alterations, production practices, etc. Hand candling shell eggs to detect defects and assess quality has been found to be an economical means of screening. It requires some training and skill. The method can be highly subjective and variable from grader to grader. The Haugh unit (HU) has become one of the most accepted means of assessing egg quality. Companies are now marketing electronic devices to assist with HU determinations, but this equipment can be cost prohibitive. As the egg products industry has grown, so has the need for accurate methods to assess the quality and functionality of a wide array of products. Egg products are also used in a variety of products, such as frozen confections, bakery products and mixes, direct consumer products, etc. Customers often require certification of the safety and quality of ingredients entering a process. Many of the testing methods are highly subjective and variable. This can be due to the user and/or the laboratory. There have also been questions raised by researchers to the validity of some of the currently accepted egg quality determination methods. For this reason, more object methods have begun to be developed for quality assessment of both shell eggs and egg products. This presentation will provide a critical review of available methods and technology as well as presenting research needs for egg quality assessment.