A Foodservice Guide to Shell Eggs


The quality of an egg is determined by the grade of the egg and is not related to size. All eggs are classified according to the U.S. Standards for interior and exterior quality factors. This determines the grade of the egg as AA, A or B. Only eggs packed in official USDA plants and sampled by official USDA graders can be packed in cartons bearing the USDA grade shield. USDA grading is a voluntary service offered to processing plants that meet minimum USDA equipment, facility, sanitary, and processing requirements.


When purchasing shell eggs, follow these guidelines:

  • Accept only clean, sound and odor-free eggs.
  • Purchase eggs according to grade and size desired and only in the quantity needed for one to two weeks.
  • Accept only eggs delivered under refrigeration at a temperature of 45° F or below. Transfer to refrigerated storage promptly.
  • Accept only eggs packed in snug-fitting fiberboard boxes to reduce breakage. Eggs are generally packed and purchased in 30-dozen cases or half cases of 15 dozen.
  • Consider size and grade in relation to use and price. Also, compare prices for different sizes of eggs of the same grade.
  • Check the grade of eggs delivered to you. Inspect the shells and then randomly break a few. These eggs should meet the guidelines for their given grades.