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Differences Between Eggs

Eggs are a complete protein source providing the body with 6 grams of essential amino acids. They also provide iron, selenium, folate, and vitamins A, B12, K, and D. Walking into the grocery store, a whole selection from extra-large eggs to omega-3 enhanced eggs. What does this mean? What is the difference between the options? This article will walk you through the different eggs offered in the grocery store!


Different Egg Options:


Grade - The grade of the egg is based on interior and exterior factors. Grade AA and A are for frying and poaching. Grade B eggs make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products.

  • Grade AA: Firm and thick egg whites, high, round egg yolks, unbroken clean shells.

  • Grade A: Like grade AA with reasonably firm egg whites.

  • Grade B: Thin egg whites, wider and flat yolks, unbroken shells, but may be stained.


Size – Factors that influence egg size are the hen’s body weight, breed, skeletal size, feed intake, protein level, and lighting. The egg's weight determines the size labeled on the carton. The most common size in the grocery store is medium, large, and extra-large. Larger eggs will have slightly more protein.

  • Jumbo – about 2.5oz per egg

  • Extra Large – about 2.25oz per egg

  • Large – about 2oz per egg

  • Medium- about 1.75 oz per egg

  • Small – about 1.5oz per egg

  • Peewee – about 1oz per egg


Note: You may notice in specific recipes specify what size egg is recommended.


Natural – this claim means the egg meets the criteria with nothing added. This label does not guarantee the hens were raised cage-free or free-range.


Cage Free (or from free-roaming hens) – this claim means the eggs laid are from hens typically roaming in a barn or poultry house. These hens typically do not have access to the outdoors and sunlight. In addition, these hens may still have limited room to roam. Cage-free eggs claim that the hens are not held in drawer-shaped battery cages.


Organic – this claim means uncaged hens lay eggs and have access to the outdoors. These hens are fed an organic diet.


Free-Range or Pasture Fed – this claim means the eggs laid are from hens raised outdoors. These hens typically feed on wild plants and insects in addition to the feed provided by the farmers.

  • Pasture-raised means the eggs laid by the hens lived the most natural life, spending most of the day outside. These eggs are raised most ethically.


Omega 3 Enhanced – this claim means the eggs laid are from hens that are fed omega-3 enhanced diets (most likely fed with flaxseed or fish oil ).


Color – Brown eggs are not considered to have more nutrients than white eggs. The color of the egg is dependent on the breed of the hen.


When purchasing eggs, one aspect to consider is their diet. Ideally, the hens would eat an organic diet, free from pesticides and fertilizer. Another aspect may be the ethical upbringing of the hens. Stress from the hens may reduce the quality of the egg (Hedlund, Louise, and Per Jensen). Stress may be caused by limited roaming room.



References:

  1. “Agriculture: Province of Manitoba.” Province of Manitoba - Agriculture, www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/livestock/production/poultry/egg-size-and-your-small-flock-of-laying-hens.html#:~:text=Hen%20body%20weight%20is%20the,hen%20weight%20and%20egg%20size. Accessed 28 July 2023.

  2. Barnes. “Eggstra! Eggstra! Learn All about Them.” USDA, 6 Apr. 2012, www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/04/06/eggstra-eggstra-learn-all-about-them#:~:text=Organic%3A%20Eggs%20marked%20with%20the,without%20conventional%20pesticides%20or%20fertilizers. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/should-you-pay-extra-for-cage-free-or-organic-eggs/ https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/eggs/.

  3. Hedlund, Louise, and Per Jensen. “Effects of stress during commercial hatching on growth, egg production and feather pecking in laying hens.” PloS one vol. 17,1 e0262307. 4 Jan. 2022, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0262307

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