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Shell Eggs

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Shell Eggs (21 CFR Parts 16 and 118)

According to the FDA, shell eggs are considered as potentially hazardous foods (PHF) which means they require time/temperature control for safety to limit pathogenic microorganisms growth or toxin formation.  An ambient temperature of 45 oF or below must be maintained beginning 36 hours after laying of eggs. Freezing must be avoided. 

FDA’s egg safety final rule requires compliance with egg farms having 3,000 or more birds. According to this rule, Salmonella preventive measures are required on the farm during egg production, storage, and transportation. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed three grades based on the interior and exterior quality factors – classes AA, A, and B. All shell eggs in domestic commerce must meet a minimum of U.S. Grade B standards. USDA shell egg grading is a voluntary service paid for by shell egg producers. Only shell eggs officially graded by USDA are eligible to bear the USDA grademark / shield.

 According to North Carolina Egg Law, eggs must be graded and containers must be labeled with the grade and size or weight class if anyone is selling more than 30 dozen eggs per week. Refer to United States Standards, Grades, and  Weight Classes for Shell Eggs

Small producers can refer to ‘Explaining the North Carolina Egg Law for producers with small flocks’ to understand the interpretations of NC Egg Law. 

Eggs must be kept in a proper environment and protected from soil, dirt, and foreign matter. When cleaning of eggs is needed, a sanitary method approved by the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture must be used. 

The term “fresh” may only be applied to eggs conforming to the specifications for Grade A or better (AA). Eggs eligible for sale without grading should be labeled “Ungraded Eggs.” 

Additional Resources:
USDA shell egg grading service FAQs
Designing HACCP for shell eggs
Explaining the North Carolina Egg Law for producers with small flocks
Selling Eggs, Meat, and Poultry in North Carolina: What Farmers Need to Know
American Egg Board
Egg Safety Final Rule
North Carolina Egg Law
Egg Grading Manual by USDA AMS
Identifying and Controlling Food Safety Risks at Shell Egg Operations
List of PHF by FDA