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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Egg and Poultry Production Safety Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390255

Research Project: Reducing Pathogen Contamination Risks and Improving Quality Attributes of Eggs and Egg Products through Housing System Management and Egg Handling Practices

Location: Egg and Poultry Production Safety Research Unit

Title: Understanding egg quality

item Jones, Deana
item Gast, Richard

Submitted to: Australian Poultry Science Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2022
Publication Date: 12/20/2022
Citation: Jones, D.R., Gast, R.K. 2022. Understanding egg quality. Australian Poultry Science Symposium. 33.

Interpretive Summary: Egg quality is a multi-faceted. Physical, functional, and microbial aspects contribute to egg quality. Research has shown that many factors impact egg quality including flock age and management, genetics, hen diet, housing design and management, as well as egg handling and storage. As laying egg production around the world shifts to more extensive housing systems, the impact of these housing systems on egg quality is unclear. Furthermore, the handling and storage of eggs have been shown to greatly affect egg quality. Understanding the factors influencing egg quality allows for higher quality eggs reaching consumers.

Technical Abstract: Eggs are an affordable raw agricultural commodity with a high nutrient density. Eggs serve a key role in diets around the world. Maintaining the quality of eggs is a worldwide concern. Generally, there are three types of egg quality: 1) physical, 2) functional, and 3) microbial. During this presentation, all three types of egg quality will be discussed and factors which influence egg quality characteristics will be explained. Understanding the types of egg quality, as well as factors impacting them, is integral to the ultimate goal of safe, high quality eggs reaching consumers. Physical egg quality is defined by the visible characteristics of the egg. Exterior features such egg shape, shell texture, shell color, cleanliness, and soundness are the first impression for consumers when selecting eggs for purchase. Interior physical egg quality factors include albumen height and clarity, as well as yolk color, shape, size, and structure. Functional egg quality describes the manner which whole egg, albumen, and yolk perform in a variety of food matrices. Eggs perform numerous functional properties in foods. Common functional attributes assessed for egg quality include: foaming, coagulation, and emulsification. Microbial quality of eggs considers both food safety and spoilage organisms. Eggs are a raw agricultural commodity with a shelf life dependent on initial flora present, handling, and storage conditions. Salmonella spp. are the historic foodborne pathogens associated with the consumption of eggs. Other spoilage organisms, including yeasts and molds, can impact the shelf-life of eggs.