Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/11/2009
Publication Date: 3/1/2010
Citation: Jones, D.R., Musgrove, M.T., Anderson, K.E., Thesmar, H.S. 2010. Physical Quality and Composition of Retail Shell Eggs. Poultry Science. 89:582-587 Interpretive Summary: Consumers are becoming more aware of their food choices. As part of this trend, sourcing and production information is often desired for agricultural products. The US shell egg industry has begun to offer a diversified range of options to meet these consumer desires. The claims most often addressed on shell egg cartons are: husbandry practices, hen nutrition, enhanced egg nutrition, organic and fertile, to name a few. Pricing for these products is typically at a premium but can vary from market to market. The current study was conducted to determine what differences in egg quality and composition existed between the various types of eggs available in local egg retail cases. White and brown large size shell eggs with various production and nutritional differences (traditional, cage free, free roaming, pasteurized, nutritionally enhanced, and fertile) were compared. While significant differences were found between white and brown shell eggs and production methods, average values for quality attributes varied without one egg type consistently maintaining the highest or lowest values.
Technical Abstract: There are a number of specialty shell eggs available to consumers in the US retail market. A survey consisting of white and brown large size shell eggs with various production and nutritional differences (traditional, cage free, free roaming, pasteurized, nutritionally enhanced, and fertile) was conducted to determine if physical quality and compositional differences exist. Identical brands of eggs were purchased from the same retail outlets on three occasions (replicates) in a single city. The average range of time from processing to purchase for all eggs was 7.67 – 25.33 d with traditional white eggs in retail the shortest time. Haugh unit values ranged from 66.67 (cage free, DHA and omega-3 enhanced) – 84.42 (traditional white). Albumen height followed a similar pattern. Egg weight was greater for brown eggs (61.12 g vs 58.85 g). Brown eggs also had greater static compression shell strength than white eggs (4130.61 vs 3690.31 g force). Vitelline membrane strength was greatest for traditional brown eggs (2.24 g force). Percent total solids and crude fat were greatest in the cage free, omega-3 enhanced white eggs (25.07 and 11.71 %, respectively). While significant differences were found between white and brown shell eggs and production methods, average values for quality attributes varied without one egg type consistently maintaining the highest or lowest values.