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Are All Grades Of Eggs Nutritionally Similar

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There’s no shortage of labels on eggs these days: large, jumbo, free-range, organic, etc. But what about the ranking system? And is it really necessary to buy the highest quality eggs? It depends on how you intend to cook with them. Here we’ll explore what makes an egg a Grade AA and a Grade A (and sometimes a Grade B).

Sustainable food labels: what they mean and what they don’t


What is egg grading?

Egg grading is a voluntary service provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and paid for by egg producers. It involves sorting the eggs into one of three grades: Grade AA, Grade A, and Grade B. Each grade is determined by evaluating the internal quality of the egg and the external quality of the egg shell. Eggs of the same grade can come in different sizes (from Jumbo up to Peewee) or colors (brown or white).

Eggs in carton
LewRobertson


How are eggs classified?

Eggs are classified based on their exterior And internal condition to help establish uniform standards for egg quality.

External quality

It turns out that eggs are judged a lot by their covers: “It’s more about looks than anything else,” Serena Schaffner with the American Egg Board told me. Shells are inspected based on the following factors:

  • Shell shape and texture: A regular egg should be oval in shape with one end larger than the other and free from rough ridges or spots.
  • Shell hardness: A healthy egg is one whose shell is considered intact.
  • Cover cleaning: A shell is considered clean if it is free from stains and discolorations. An egg with small specks or cage marks can still be considered clean.

Interior quality

So how do they inspect the inside of the eggs without cracking them? It can be done using an ancient technique called egg candling. Hold the egg up to a bright light in a dark room. Once upon a time, farmers used a candle, but now people use an electronic egg candlestick. (Yes, you can buy one on Amazon.) Using this technique, eggs are graded based on the following factors:

  • Air cell: When the egg is first laid, it has very little or no air inside. As its temperature cools, the liquid contracts and the inner shell membrane separates from the outer one to form what is known as an air cell. The shallower the depth of the air cell, the higher the grade.
  • Yolk and albumen: When you hold the egg up to the light, you want the outline of the yolk to be just slightly defined, as this indicates a thicker white and a yolk that isn’t off-color. The interior is also checked for bloodstains or other blemishes.


Degrees of consumption eggs

Grade AA and A eggs are most commonly found in supermarkets, while Grade B eggs are often used to make liquid, frozen or dried egg products.

chart with descriptions of different grades of eggs

USDA Grade AA

The highest grade is AA. These eggs must have clean, undamaged shells of normal shape. The air cells of Grade AA eggs should be no more than 1/8 inch deep. Their white should be clear and firm, and their yolk should be only slightly defined when swirled in front of a light. And, of course, the yolk must be virtually free from any apparent blemishes.

USDA Grade A

Like Grade AA eggs, Grade A eggs should have clean, undamaged shells of normal shape. The air cell of a Grade A egg should be no more than 3/16 of an inch deep. The whites should be clear and reasonably firm, so that the yolk is just well defined enough. Finally, it must be practically free from apparent defects.

USDA Grade B

While safe to eat, Grade B eggs are not often found in supermarkets. They don’t meet the same standards as Grade AA and Grade A eggs, which is why they’re often preserved for use in liquid, frozen, or dried egg products.

A Grade B egg must have an intact shell, but may be abnormally shaped and slightly blemished. The air cell may be more than 3/16 of an inch deep, the white may be faint and watery, and the yolk outline may be distinct, dark, enlarged and flattened. There may be small spots of blood, but it shouldn’t have major flaws.


What quality of eggs should you use for cooking or baking?

The USDA has a 50-page manual on egg grading. But the key facts are these:

  • Use grade AA when you are preparing an egg dish where the appearance of the egg is important, such as fried eggs.
  • Use Grade A or Grade B whether you’re mixing eggs into your dish or using them for baking, as the difference is largely in appearances and they’re still perfectly safe to consume.

Related:

  • All about eggs: grades, safety, nutrition and more
  • How to know if your eggs are bad
  • Are eggs really bad for cholesterol?


There’s no shortage of labels on eggs these days: large, jumbo, free-range, organic, etc. But what about the ranking system? And is it really necessary to buy the highest quality eggs? It depends on how you intend to cook with them. Here we’ll explore what makes an egg a Grade AA and a Grade A (and sometimes a Grade B).

Sustainable food labels: what they mean and what they don’t


What is egg grading?

Egg grading is a voluntary service provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and paid for by egg producers. It involves sorting the eggs into one of three grades: Grade AA, Grade A, and Grade B. Each grade is determined by evaluating the internal quality of the egg and the external quality of the egg shell. Eggs of the same grade can come in different sizes (from Jumbo up to Peewee) or colors (brown or white).

Eggs in carton
LewRobertson


How are eggs classified?

Eggs are classified based on their exterior And internal condition to help establish uniform standards for egg quality.

External quality

It turns out that eggs are judged a lot by their covers: “It’s more about looks than anything else,” Serena Schaffner with the American Egg Board told me. Shells are inspected based on the following factors:

  • Shell shape and texture: A regular egg should be oval in shape with one end larger than the other and free from rough ridges or points.
  • Shell hardness: A healthy egg is one whose shell is considered intact.
  • Cover cleaning: A shell is considered clean if it is free from stains and discolorations. An egg with small specks or cage marks can still be considered clean.

Interior quality

So how do they inspect the inside of the eggs without cracking them? It can be done using an ancient technique called egg candling. Hold the egg up to a bright light in a dark room. Once upon a time, farmers used a candle, but now people use an electronic egg candlestick. (Yes, you can buy one on Amazon.) Using this technique, eggs are graded based on the following factors:

  • Air cell: When the egg is first laid, it has very little or no air inside. As its temperature cools, the liquid contracts and the inner shell membrane separates from the outer one to form what is known as an air cell. The shallower the depth of the air cell, the higher the grade.
  • Yolk and albumen: When you hold the egg up to the light, you want the outline of the yolk to be just slightly defined, as this indicates a thicker white and a yolk that isn’t off-color. The interior is also checked for bloodstains or other blemishes.


Degrees of consumption eggs

Grade AA and A eggs are most commonly found in supermarkets, while Grade B eggs are often used to make liquid, frozen or dried egg products.

chart with descriptions of different grades of eggs

USDA Grade AA

The highest grade is AA. These eggs must have clean, undamaged shells of normal shape. The air cells of Grade AA eggs should be no more than 1/8 inch deep. Their white should be clear and firm, and their yolk should be only slightly defined when swirled in front of a light. And, of course, the yolk must be virtually free from any apparent blemishes.

USDA Grade A

Like Grade AA eggs, Grade A eggs should have clean, undamaged shells of normal shape. The air cell of a Grade A egg should be no more than 3/16 of an inch deep. The whites should be clear and reasonably firm, so that the yolk is just well defined enough. Finally, it must be practically free from apparent defects.

USDA Grade B

While safe to eat, Grade B eggs are not often found in supermarkets. They don’t meet the same standards as Grade AA and Grade A eggs, which is why they’re often preserved for use in liquid, frozen, or dried egg products.

A Grade B egg must have an intact shell, but may be abnormally shaped and slightly blemished. The air cell may be more than 3/16 of an inch deep, the white may be faint and watery, and the yolk outline may be distinct, dark, enlarged and flattened. There may be small spots of blood, but it shouldn’t have major flaws.


What quality of eggs should you use for cooking or baking?

The USDA has a 50-page manual on egg grading. But the key facts are these:

  • Use grade AA when you are preparing an egg dish where the appearance of the egg is important, such as fried eggs.
  • Use Grade A or Grade B whether you’re mixing eggs into your dish or using them for baking, as the difference is largely in appearances and they’re still perfectly safe to consume.

Related:

  • All about eggs: grades, safety, nutrition and more
  • How to know if your eggs are bad
  • Are eggs really bad for cholesterol?


Video about Are All Grades Of Eggs Nutritionally Similar

What are egg grades?

Grading and grades explained.

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