Eggs

Definition: Only clean shell eggs meeting applicable grade standards or pasteurized shell, liquid, frozen or dry eggs, or pasteurized dry egg products shall be used or offered for sale in Colorado. Also, only the eggs of the domesticated chicken are covered under the Colorado Department of Agriculture Egg Law and Rules.  The Department does not have regulations that apply to duck, geese, or other poultry eggs.   If you have questions after reading this web page, please contact the Colorado Egg Program at (303) 477-0093 or eggs@state.co.us for information.

Food Safety Considerations: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on earth and can be part of a healthy diet. However, they are perishable just like raw meat, poultry, and fish. Unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain Salmonella enteritidis bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. While the number of eggs affected is quite small, there have been large outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with eggs in recent years. To be safe, eggs must be safely handled, refrigerated and cooked. Cook eggs until both the yolk and white are firm. Do not eat cookie dough with raw eggs, eggnog made with unpasteurized eggs, or meringues that have not been heated or properly prepared. Using pasteurized eggs and egg products is a good option.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Handling Practices (GHP): New food safety requirements published by the FDA regarding egg safety and reduction of Salmonella became effective on July 9, 2010. The compliance date for the egg rule was July 9, 2010 for producers with 50,000 or more laying hens, and it went into effect as of July 9, 2012 for medium-sized producers (those with fewer than 50,000 but at least 3,000 laying hens). Producers with fewer than 3,000 laying hens and those that sell all of their eggs directly to consumers are exempt from the egg rule. Under the FDA rule, egg producers whose shell eggs are not processed with a treatment, such as pasteurization, must:

  • Buy chicks and young hens only from suppliers who monitor for Salmonella bacteria
  • Establish rodent, pest control, and biosecurity measures to prevent spread of bacteria throughout the farm by people and equipment
  • Conduct testing in the poultry house for Salmonella. If the tests find presence of the bacterium, then a representative sample of the eggs must be tested over an eight-week time period (four tests at two-week intervals). If any of the four egg tests is positive, the producer must further process the eggs to destroy the bacteria, or divert the eggs to a non-food use
  • Clean and disinfect poultry houses that have tested positive for Salmonella
  • Refrigerate eggs at 45 degrees F during storage and transportation no later than 36 hours after the eggs are laid (this requirement also applies to egg producers whose eggs receive a treatment, such as pasteurization).

To ensure compliance, egg producers must maintain a written Salmonella Enteritidis prevention plan and records documenting their compliance. Egg producers covered by this rule must also register with the FDA. The FDA will develop guidance and enforcement plans to help egg producers comply with the rule. Please consult the new egg rule for more information.

HACCP Plan: Not currently required, but strongly suggested. See the following publication for guidance: Designing a HACCP Plan for Shell Egg Processing Plants.

Distribution Method (Expand All | Collapse All)

You are selling your product at a farmers’ market, CSA, roadside stand, or other direct to consumer outlet

Licensing: Egg sales at farmers’ markets, CSAs, roadside stands, and other direct to consumer outlets are exempted from licensing and inspection by the Colorado Cottage Foods Act if there are fewer than 250 dozen sold per month.  This Act requires that the eggs be transported in a clean and sanitary environment that is between 33° and 41° F.  Labels must include the address at which the egg originated and the date the eggs were packaged.  Any eggs not treated for salmonella such as by pasteurization must have the following statement on the package:   “SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: TO PREVENT ILLNESS FROM BACTERIA, KEEP EGGS REFRIGERATED, COOK EGGS UNTIL YOLKS ARE FIRM, AND COOK ANY FOODS CONTAINING EGGS THOROUGHLY.”  Also “These eggs do not come from a government-approved source” must be on the label.

  • If you plan to sell eggs for ‘”retail only” and you produce less than 250 dozen per month, then your operation would be exempt from regulation by the Department of Agriculture.
  • “Retail only” means a stand at your home, or selling to friends and neighbors at the place of production, or at a farmers’ market, CSA or similar venue where the eggs are sold directly to the final household consumer of the eggs.

You are selling your product from your own farm property

If you sell your eggs from your own farm property (such as at a farm stand), and you produce less than 250 dozen per month, then you are exempt from regulation by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

You are selling your product to a store, restaurant, food cart, K-12 school, university, hospital, or other retail food establishment

Licensing: If you wish to sell eggs to a retail outlet, then you must have a Class I small-flock egg producer license and 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 an “approved source” to sell eggs to stores. Becoming a licensed small flock egg producer involves a CDA license and a visit to your farm by a CDA inspector. The inspector will check to see that you have proper facilities to:

  • wash
  • sanitize
  • candle
  • grade
  • label
  • transport and
  • refrigerate eggs

Washing/Sanitizing: Washing eggs is recommended using a food grade unscented detergent, such as unscented dish washing soap or another approved detergent. Chemical sanitation must be performed on all eggs which may be done by dipping the eggs in a solution of 1 ounce of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of 110°F to 120°F water or another approved compound. It is also acceptable to spray this solution onto the egg exterior.

Candling: All eggs must be candled with a device sufficient to view the interior of the egg to determine the consumer quality grade of AA, A, or B. Eggs are candled to detect small cracks in the egg shell, and to determine the condition of the air cell, yolk, and white. Candling detects bloody whites, blood spots, or meat spots, and enables observation of germ (embryo) development. Candling is done in a darkened room with the egg held before a light. The light penetrates the shell and makes it possible to observe the inside of the egg. The candler should be set on a box or table at a convenient height (about 38 to 44 inches from the flood light), so the light will not shine directly into the eyes of the operator. In candling, the egg is held in a slanting position with the large end against the hole in the candler. The egg is grasped by the small end and, while held between the thumb and tips of the first two fingers, is turned quickly to the right or left. This moves the contents of the egg and throws the yolk nearer the shell. Because of the color of their shells, brown eggs are more difficult to candle than white eggs. To do a reasonable job, an extensive knowledge of candling is not necessary, particularly if the eggs are all relatively fresh. Instructions for the construction of two economical egg candlers.

Grading: Eggs must be candled and graded into consumer grades:

Grade AA: The shell must be clean, unbroken, and normal. The air cell must not exceed l/8 inch in depth and be regular. The white must be clear and firm so that the yolk outline is only slightly defined when the egg is twirled before the candling light. The yolk must be free from apparent defects.

Grade A: The shell must be clean, unbroken, and practically normal. The air cell must not exceed 3/16 inch in depth and must be practically regular. The white must be clear and at least reasonably firm so that the yolk outline is only fairly well defined when the egg is twirled before the candling light. The yolk must be practically free from apparent defects.

Grade B: The shell must be unbroken but may be slightly abnormal and may show slight stains but no adhering dirt; provided that the stains do not appreciably detract from the appearance of the egg. When the stain is localized, approximately 1/32 of the shell surface may be slightly stained, and when the slightly stained areas are scattered approximately 1/16 of the shell surface may be slightly stained. The air cell must not exceed 3/8 inch in depth, may show unlimited movement, and may be free or bubbly (do we need to explain what “bubbly” means?). The white must be clear and may be slightly weak so that the yolk outline is well defined when the egg is twirled before the candling light. The yolk may appear slightly enlarged or slightly flattened and may show other definite, but not serious, defects.

Weight Requirements:

Size or Weight Class Min Net Weight per  Dozen (ounces) Min Net Weight per 30 Dozen (pounds) Min Net Weight for Individual Eggs at Rate per Dozen (ounces)*
Jumbo 30 56 29
Extra-Large 27 50 1/2 26
Large 24 45 23
Medium 21 39 1/2 20
Small 18 34 17
Peewee 15 28

* Enough larger eggs must be present to insure the minimum net weight per dozen.

Packaging and Labeling: Eggs should be cleaned and sanitized before being packed into consumer cartons. Eggs must be packed into clean, new cartons that are labeled with the producer’s name and address, the packing date, and the size and grade of the eggs.  There are 4 label items that must be placed on each case and/or carton at the time of packing:

  1. Producer ID – Name and address including zip code of the producer or person who packed the eggs. A website address or telephone number may be on the label in addition to the address.
  2. Pack Date – the day on which the eggs were packed. This may be expressed as the month/day; or by the Julian date, the numbered consecutive day of the year.
  3. Grade – all eggs must be labeled with a consumer quality grade: AA, A, or B
  4. Size – all eggs must have a minimum size declared such as Medium, Large, or Extra Large size

The Expiration Date is optional. If this is on the label, it may be no more than 30 days after the Pack Date, and it must be preceded by “EXP” or “SELL BY.”  The FDA requires that the following safe handling instructions be on the carton: “Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.”

Transporting: All eggs must be stored and transported in a sanitary environment between 33°F and 41°F.

Further information can be obtained at www.colorado.gov/ag/ics or by contacting the egg program at: eggs@state.co.us

Sales Tax Liability: General sales tax information.

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