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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

What do all those labels on egg cartons mean?

Carton of brown eggs

There are so many things to think about when buying eggs, including the different grades, different colors, different ways the chicken is raised and the date on the carton. Here’s a few answers to your questions.

  • Grades- USDA Grade A eggs are the most common eggs sold in stores. Grade A eggs have characteristics of Grade AA eggs except that the whites are "reasonably" firm. Grade B eggs have thinner whites, flatter yolks and may have stains on the shells. They are typically used for liquid, frozen and dried products.
  • Colors- the shell of the egg may be white or brown. It’s the breed of the chicken that determines the color. Brown hens typically lay brown eggs, and since these chickens are usually larger and require more food, brown eggs are sometimes more expensive. However, brown eggs are not any more nutritious than white eggs; their nutrition content is very similar. 
  • Cage-free- these eggs are produced by hens raised on cage-free farms; they can roam around but are housed indoors.
  • Free range- there’s no federal definition of free range but USDA usually permits the term to be used if hens have some access to the outdoors.
  • Organic- Organic eggs are from uncaged hens that have been raised according to the USDA’s National Organic Program guidelines. They must be free range and fed an organic diet consisting of feed that wasn’t treated with conventional pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Sell-by date- this date simply refers to when the store must sell the eggs. Eggs may be refrigerated three to five weeks from the day you purchased them even if this is past the sell-by date. An egg that floats in water may still be safe to use; it just means the egg is older.


Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (Printable PDF)

2 large eggs

Dash of salt

Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 cups baby spinach

1 Tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated

Red pepper flakes to taste

Whisk eggs in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute or until just set. Stir in grated parmesan and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.

Yield: 1 serving


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 250 calories, 18 grams fat, 496 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 20 grams protein


Source: Egg Safety Center

USDA Shell Eggs from Farm to Table


This blog first appeared in the Pantagraph on April 14, 2021.