Why do we grade eggs?
Grade requirements are set for eggs to protect consumers from undue risk. In grading eggs, the factors of interior quality, weight, cleanliness and shell construction are considered. These factors are related to safety, wholesomeness and quality. Grading and application of grade names under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) is limited to inspectors and to licensed egg operators (establishments).
These regulations are in place to protect consumers and require that eggs from licensed egg operators that are graded as Canada A (consumer grade eggs) must be clean and free of leaks, cracks or other defects that could present food safety problems.
What happens in a licensed establishment when eggs are graded?
In a licensed establishment, eggs are received, washed, candled, weighed and packed into containers with the applicable Canadian grade name in a sanitary environment.
Eggs are received and held in a refrigerated holding area which is separate from the area where the eggs are graded.
Eggs are washed and sanitized in water of regulated temperature and acidic balance. Washing removes dirt and any bacteria adhering to the shell.
Eggs pass over a bright candling light by means of a conveyor that transports and, at the same time, rolls the eggs. The light makes the internal contents of the egg visible allowing a determination of internal defects to be made (i.e. blood spots, meat spots, rot, poor quality yolk, air cell size, etc.) By rolling the eggs as they pass over the candling light, the entire outer surface of the egg can be seen by the grader.
The light makes cracks in the shell visible (some cracks are very difficult to see until candled) and also allows dirt, stains, or excessively rough shelled eggs to be seen. By this process, the Candler can determine whether each egg meets the grade requirements for Canada A. Defective eggs, leaking eggs and rejects are removed by the Candler and the eggs that meet Canada A grade requirements proceed to the scales to be weighed.
Eggs are weighed and sorted according to size category for Canada A grade eggs (Jumbo Size, Extra Large Size, Large Size, Medium Size, Small Size and Peewee Size). Each of the sizes has a weight requirement that must be met.
Eggs are packed in containers according to their grade and size (if Canada A grade).
Eggs are stored at an appropriate temperature in the Graded Cooler until they are loaded into a vehicle for transport to the retail location.
For more information on how eggs are graded please consult section 6.1 of the Operational procedure: Shell egg product inspection.
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