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Egg Buying Guide


Egg Safety Tips for the Consumer

Selling Eggs in Colorado 1. Store eggs in the refrigerator on the shelf in the egg cartons.
2. Use only clean and unbroken eggs. Discard broken and dirty eggs.
3. Eggs should not be washed before use.
4. Do not leave shell eggs and eggs in any form at room temperature for more than 2 hours including preparation and serving. Promptly after serving, refrigerate leftovers in shallow containers so they will cool quickly.
5. Salmonella and many other bacteria will not survive if held at a temperature of 140°F for 3 ½ minutes or at 160°F and they will not grow at a temperature below 40°F.

Commonly Used Claims & Definitions for Eggs (Back to Top)

Natural: The term is commonly used on products raised without antibiotics in the feed or hormone implants.

Organic: Certified organic requires certified organic feed, certain humane treatment of the animals, and the processing must be done at a certified facility. Antibiotics and artificial growth hormones are not allowed.

Pasture raised: Use of this term varies widely. Typically, poultry have access to large areas of pasture where they can roam freely. Laying boxes, roosting areas, and grain feeders are moved around the pasture so that the congregation of the birds is never limited to one area for very long. This term does not mean that the sole diet of the birds is bugs. But insects and worms are sure part of the menu.

Cage free: This term means that birds are raised in a way in which management prevents birds being kept in small cages for extended times. It does not necessarily mean pasture-raised and many backyard raised birds can be classified as cage free. This term also varies widely in its use.

Farm fresh: Typically this term refers to a farmer selling directly to a consumer. The term fresh can be highly subjective.

Common Egg Questions (Back to Top)

Question 1) How long will eggs keep in the refrigerator?
Answer: If bought fresh, usually eggs will keep 30-45 days after their packing without significant quality loss. This is assuming they are kept in their cartons and refrigerated. The eggs have an oil coat on the shells which helps seal off the pores preventing moisture loss and adding protection from bacteria. Eggs usually will dry out before they “spoil” from bacteria. However, bacteria do grow quickly when eggs are left at room temperature, so always keep raw eggs refrigerated. The rule is that for every hour an egg is at room temperature, it ages a day.

Question 2) Are brown eggs better?
Answer: No! Shell color does not make a difference in an eggs nutritional value, taste, quality, or cooking characteristics. Color comes from the breed of the hen. In chickens, typically hens with white ear lobes will produce white eggs and hens with red ear lobes will produce brown eggs.

Question 3) Are all eggs fertile?
Answer: No, the only way an egg can grow an embryo is if there was a rooster with the hens. Ask your farmer if roosters and laying hens comingle. There is no nutritional difference between fertilized and non fertilized eggs; however, fertilized eggs will tend to lose their quality faster.

Question 4) What’s that white stringy thing in my eggs?
Answer: That’s just the yolk support called chalazae. It keeps the yolk centered in the egg. It’s totally edible and has nothing to do with the egg being fertilized or not. The more pronounced the chalazae, the fresher the egg!

Question 5) Why are some yolks yellow and some orange?
Answer: The yolk color, quality, and firmness are directly related to the chicken’s diet. The eggs nutritional quality, based on color, is highly subjective with firmness and taste being more a consumer preference.

Question 6) What are these blood spots?
Answer: These tiny spots are not harmful and are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel during formation of the egg. Blood spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Candling can reveal most blood spots but it’s impossible to catch all of them. If desired, the spot can be removed with the tip of a clean knife prior to cooking. These eggs are safe to eat.

Question 7) Why are my egg whites cloudy?
Answer: Typically, the fresher the egg the more cloudy the egg white. When eggs age their whites become clearer.

Question 8) Which was first, the chicken or the egg?
Answer: Depends on your belief. If you believe in the bible then the chicken came first. The book of Genesis suggests that God created all winged birds according to their kind and gave them the ability to be fruitful and increase in number. If you don’t believe in the bible, then flip a coin, because it’s anyone’s guess.

Selling Eggs in Colorado (Back to Top)

If you plan to sell your eggs for '"retail only", and you produce less than 250 dozen per month, then you are exempt from regulation by the Department of Agriculture. "Retail only" means a stand at your home, selling to friends and neighbors, or at a farmers market.

If you wish to sell your eggs to a local grocery store, or other retail outlet, then there are some regulations you must follow. Please view the Colorado Department of Agriculture's candling, grading and carton labeling requirements.

Additionally, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment requires you to be and "approved source" to sell eggs to stores. Becoming an approved source involves a visit to your farm by an inspector. The inspector will check to see that you have proper facilities to wash, sanitize, candle, grade, and refrigerate eggs.

Egg Washing for Small Flock Owners (Back to Top)

Household poultry flocks may produce a high percentage of dirty eggs. Many of these eggs are soiled because they are laid in dirty nests or are being laid on the floor. Dirty eggs can be a health hazard if they are not properly cleaned and sanitized.

Even under the best of conditions, some dirty eggs will still be produced. These eggs should be placed in a separate container at gathering time so they can't soil clean eggs. The dirty eggs can accumulate with each gathering, but must be cleaned at the end of the day. This helps to prevent hardening of the dirt and reduces the chance of microbial penetration of the shell.

Dirty eggs should be washed in water that is at least 20°F warmer than the eggs. A good water temperature should be no more than 120°F and no less than 110°F. Hands in rubber gloves can tolerate these temperatures. This water temperature causes the egg contents to expand and prevent entry of microbe contaminated water through the shell pores. Wash each egg separately. If you have only a few eggs (12 or less) wash them under the water tap. Larger numbers of eggs require greater attention. Make up basins of detergent and rinse water, each containing 1 to 2 gallons of solution. Use a non-foaming, unscented detergent, such as automatic dishwasher or laundry detergent. The fragrance in scented detergents will be absorbed by the eggs, giving them an off-flavor or odor when eaten. Change the detergent and rinse water after cleaning each 3 to 4 dozen eggs. Do not soak the eggs before or during cleaning. Each egg should be rinsed in clean water,

After washing the eggs, they should be sanitized by dipping or spraying. To dip, make up a basin containing 1 to 2 gallons of 120°F water and bleach at 100-200 ppm chlorine. A 200 ppm chlorine solution can be made by mixing 1 oz bleach with 1 gallon of water. To spray eggs, a watering can with 120°F water and bleach at 100-200 ppm is good. Don't stint; use plenty of water. This gets them cleaner, and the bleach helps make the stains go away.

Dry the eggs in some responsible manner. They'll stick to the cartons if you box them while wet. Some people dry them on racks, using 1/2 in. hardware cloth on a wooden frame. Putting the eggs directly in the refrigerator, still in their baskets or washer flats, is the simplest method.

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