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Illinois Livestock Trail
Tips on Handling Eggs
by K.W. Koelkebeck, Extension Poultry Specialist

There are five important factors that affect the interior quality of eggs. These factors are time, temperature, humidity, handling and storage.

Effects of Time. Long holding time causes the white to become weak and watery and the loss of carbon dioxide which occurs over time causes the albumen and yolk to become alkaline which could affect the flavor of the egg.

Effects of Temperature. The rate of decline of interior egg quality is most affected by temperature. Keeping eggs at high holding temperatures (above 60°F) speeds up the rate of internal egg moisture loss and increases quality deterioration.

Effects of Humidity. Relative humidity helps control the amount of moisture loss from an egg. Holding eggs at a low humidity (less than 70%) will increase the moisture loss from an egg, resulting in a loss of weight and deterioration of the thick albumen.

Effects of Handling. At all times, eggs should be handled carefully, not only because of possible egg shell breakage, but also because of disruption of the interior egg contents itself.

Effects of Storage Location. Eggs will pick up strong odors in the storage area if they are stored next to items such as apples, oranges, onions and other vegetables or fruits.

Thus, in order to keep eggs fresh and maintain quality and flavor, the following tips for handling eggs are presented:

1. Storage Temperature: Eggs should be stored at a temperature of between 50 and 60° in containers with the small end down.
2. Storage Humidity: To minimize the moisture loss from eggs, they should be stored in an environment with a relative humidity of between 70 and 80%.
3. Careful Handling: To avoid breakage and disruption of the interior quality of eggs, they should always be handled carefully.
4. Merchandising: Eggs should be marketed frequently, twice per week, to insure that fresh quality eggs are sold.
  1. Retail outlets should have adequate refrigerated holding space.
  2. Properly located self-service egg counters.
  3. Stock people should rotate eggs often in the egg counter to assure that fresh eggs are sold and old eggs are discarded.
5. Storage of Eggs: Eggs should never be stored next to vegetables which give off strong odors.

REFERENCE: Stadelman, W.J., 1977. Quality Preservation of Shell Eggs. In Egg Science and Technology. 2nd ed. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Connecticut.

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