Healthy Eggs FAQs

EFA’s Healthy Eggs pillar is about food safety & quality, nutrition, and what it takes for egg farmers to provide fresh, local eggs.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions related to Healthy Eggs.

Are the eggs at the grocery store fresh?

Eggs available at grocery stores across the province are fresh, and almost all of them are from local egg farmers right here in Alberta.

Most eggs typically arrive at the grocery store within about a week of the time they are laid on farm, stopping only briefly at the grading station before hitting the grocery store shelves.

How long do eggs last past the ‘best before’ date on the carton?

Raw shell eggs will keep in the refrigerator without significant quality loss for up to three weeks after the Best Before Date stamped on the carton.

Keep your eggs as fresh as possible by storing them in the main body of the fridge (not on the door) in their original carton.

Is it safe to keep eggs on the counter, instead of in the fridge?

In order to keep the eggs their freshest and fresh for longer, they should be stored in the main body of the refrigerator, in their original carton.

How can I tell if my eggs are fresh?

The easiest way to tell if your eggs are fresh is by checking the Best Before Date on the carton, which is just one of the reasons why it’s important to keep eggs stored in their original carton.

If you drop an egg into water, a fresh egg will sink, while an older egg will float.  As an egg ages, the air cell inside increases, which causes it to float.

What does Grade-A mean?

Grade-A eggs have a clean and uncracked shell, a round and centered yolk, a firm white, and a small air cell.  Grade-A eggs are the ones sold at grocery stores for Canadians to enjoy.

Grade-B eggs are sold for commercial baking or for future processing, while Grade-C eggs are only used in the production of processed egg products.

Why do some eggs have dark yolks and other have pale yolks?

Yolk color is entirely dependent on the type of feed the hens eat.  Wheat-based feed tends to produce lighter yolks, while corn-based feed tends to produce darker yolks.

The yolk color does not affect the flavor, quality, or nutritional value of the eggs

What is the difference between white eggs and brown eggs?

The only difference between white and brown eggs is the color of the hen that laid that laid them; white hens lay white eggs and brown hens lay brown eggs.

There is no nutritional difference between regular white and brown eggs.

What are Nest Laid and Comfort Coop eggs?

Nest Laid and Comfort Coop eggs are two examples of eggs that are laid by hens living in a furnished housing system.  The nutritional value of these eggs is the same as regular white or brown eggs.

What are free-run and free-range eggs?

Free-run eggs are laid by hens living in a free-run housing system, while free-range eggs are laid by hens living in a free-range housing system.  The nutritional value of free-run and free-range eggs is the same as regular white or brown eggs.

What are organic eggs?

To be classified organic, the hens that lay the eggs must be housed in a free-range housing system and must be fed only feed that is certified organic, meaning the crops were grown without the use or herbicides or pesticides.

What are Omega-3 eggs?

Omega-3 eggs are from hens that are fed about 10-20% more flaxseed, so they produce eggs containing a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids.

A single Omega-3 egg contains approximately 1/4 – 1/3 of the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acid.

Why do my eggs smell fishy?

Omega-3 eggs can sometimes have a fishy smell, since they are laid by hens that are fed 10-20% more flaxseed, which naturally contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based type of omega-3 fatty acid.

The chemical structure of omega-3 fatty acid is such that it has a distinct smell, which is why fish – which typically have a high omega-3 fatty acid content – smells the way it does.

There are so many different eggs at the grocery store – how do I decide which ones to buy?

All the eggs available at the grocery store are fresh, nutritious, and locally produced by farmers who adhere to mandatory on-farm food safety and animal care programs.

Other than eggs that are fed a special diet (ie: Omega-3 eggs), the nutritional content of all the eggs is the same.

Eggs are classified based on either the housing system the hens live in (ie: free-run and free-range), or the feed they are provided (ie: Omega-3 and vitamin enhanced).

Are eggs healthy? Are eggs good for me?

Eggs are one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods.  One large egg contains 6g of the highest quality protein, many vitamins and minerals, and only 70 calories.

What nutrients are in an egg?

The egg yolk provides 3/4 of the calories, all/most of the fat, phosphorous, iron, zinc, vitamins B6, B12 and A, folic acid, pantothenic acid, choline and thiamin, and about half the protein and riboflavin of the whole egg.  The rest of the nutrients are found in the white.

Egg yolks are one of the few foods naturally containing vitamin D.

An egg yolk contains only 195 mg of cholesterol and 5g of fat, of which 1.5g is saturated fats.

Should I limit the number of eggs I eat because of the cholesterol in them?

There is no reason for a healthy, low-risk person to limit their egg consumption.

The cholesterol in eggs is dietary cholesterol, which has little effect on most people’s blood cholesterol.  Excess saturated and trans fats are far more concerning than dietary cholesterol.

Is there a chance that an egg I bought is fertilized? Could a baby chick hatch from one of my eggs?

Absolutely not!

Just like humans, both a rooster (boy) and hen (girl) are required to create a baby chick.  That’s why egg farmers only raise hens, to eliminate the risk of fertilization.

What food safety rules and/or regulations do egg farmers have to follow?

Alberta egg farmers must adhere to Start Clean – Stay Clean, the national on-farm food safety program that is technically accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as a requirement for being licensed to produce eggs.

Start Clean – Stay Clean tracks all regulated egg farms in Canada to ensure that egg farmers monitor critical control points, implement best management practices, and keep extensive records related to factors including barn temperature, air quality, cleanliness, egg collection, egg storage, and testing for Salmonella Enteritidis.

On-farm compliance with Start Clean – Stay Clean is monitored via regular inspections by a trained team of both provincial and national field inspectors.

Where can I find more information about food safety and bio-security for egg laying hens?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched a new webpage on avian biosecurity, which contains resources for producers, the poultry service industry, and backyard flock owners.

What is a grading station?

All eggs are washed, inspected (graded), sized and packaged at grading stations, which are registered with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Farmers sell their eggs to the graders, who then sell the eggs to grocery stores, restaurants and egg processors.

Some egg farmers have CFIA-registered grading stations on their farm, so they can sell direct to grocery stores and restaurants.

How do the eggs get from the farm to the grocery store?

Eggs are collected daily on each farm and are sent to the grading station, where they are packaged and shipped to grocery stores across the province.

From the time an egg is laid, it typically takes about 1 week for the egg to be on grocery store shelves

How many eggs do Alberta’s egg farmers produce each year?

The province’s egg farmers raise over 2 million hens that each lay about 300 eggs per year, allowing the farmers to provide Albertans with over 50 million dozen eggs annually!