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Title: Modified Pressure Imaging for Egg Crack Detection and Resulting Egg Quality

item Jones, Deana
item Lawrence, Kurt
item Yoon, Seung-Chul
item Heitschmidt, Gerald - Jerry

Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/12/2010
Publication Date: 4/1/2010
Citation: Jones, D.R., Lawrence, K.C., Yoon, S.C., Heitschmidt, G.W. 2010. Modified pressure imaging for egg crack detection and resulting egg quality. Poultry Science. 89:761-765.

Interpretive Summary: Cracks in the shells of eggs pose a major food safety concern to consumers. Research has shown that cracked eggs are more likely to serve as a reservoir for bacteria, including food borne pathogens. New technology utilizing modified pressure and imaging has an accuracy of 99.4 % in detecting cracked eggs during surveillance grading by inspectors. A study was conducted to determine if exposure to the modified pressure imaging system had any effect on subsequent egg quality during storage. After five weeks of refrigerated storage, only a slight difference in the amount of water in the whole egg was noted between imaged and non-imaged eggs. All other quality attributes (Haugh unit, egg weight, albumen height, shell strength, vitelline membrane strength and vitelline membrane elasticity) were the same for imaged and non-imaged eggs. The use of the modified pressure imaging system to detect cracked eggs does not affect egg quality, therefore making it an important tool for enhancing the safety of shell eggs for US retail sale.

Technical Abstract: Cracks in the shell surface impair the primary barrier for external microbial contamination of the egg. Microcracks are very small cracks in the shell surface which are difficult to detect by human graders. New technology has been developed which utilizes modified pressure and imaging to detect microcracks in eggs. Research has shown the system to have a 99.4% accuracy in detecting cracked and intact eggs. A study was undertaken to determine if quality differences were seen between modified pressure imaged and control eggs during extended cold storage. Three replicates were conducted with eggs stored at 4C for five weeks with weekly quality testing. The physical quality factors monitored were: Haugh units, albumen height, egg weight, shell strength, vitelline membrane strength and elasticity, and whole egg total solids. All measurements were conducted on individual eggs (12/treatment/replicate) each week with the exception of whole egg solids which were determined from 3 pools/treatment/replicate each week. Percent whole egg total solids was the only significant (P < 0.05) difference between treatments (23.65% imaged and 23.47% control). There was a significant difference (P < 0.05) for egg weight between replicates (60.82 g, 58.02 g and 60.58 g for replicates 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Imaging eggs in the modified pressure system for microcrack detection did not alter egg quality during extended cold storage. Utilizing the modified pressure crack detection technology would result in fewer cracked eggs reaching the consumer, consequently enhancing food safety without affecting product quality.