Physical quality and composition of retail shell eggs

Poult Sci. 2010 Mar;89(3):582-7. doi: 10.3382/ps.2009-00315.


There are a number of specialty shell eggs available to consumers in the US retail market. A survey consisting of white and brown large 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 3 occasions (replicates) in a single city. The average range of time from processing to purchase for all eggs was 7.67 to 25.33 d, with traditional white eggs in retail having the shortest time. Haugh unit values ranged from 66.67 (cage-free, docosahexaenoic acid, and n-3 enhanced) to 84.42 (traditional white). Albumen height followed a similar pattern. Egg weight was greater for brown eggs (61.12 vs. 58.85 g). Brown eggs also had greater static compression shell strength than white eggs (4,130.61 vs. 3,690.31 g force). Vitelline membrane strength was greatest for traditional brown eggs (2.24 g force). Percentage of total solids and crude fat was greatest in the cage-free, n-3-enhanced white eggs (25.07 and 11.71%, respectively). Although 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.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Eggs / analysis
  • Eggs / standards*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Time Factors