If you have a large flock, sometimes the number of eggs laid can get overwhelming, especially if you have breeds that are large producers. The last thing you want to do is get sick or get a family member sick by eating eggs that are no good anymore.
With all these eggs, it can be hard to keep track of when they were laid and even which of your girls laid them. But, there has to be some way to keep track of them.
Can you mark chicken eggs with a sharpie? Is it Safe?
Generally, it’s best to avoid actual Sharpies. While they are great for marking just about anything, they are not suitable for food products.
I’ll go over why eggs need to be marked and why Sharpies are not the best to use. And how you can safely mark your chicken eggs. I will also go over why eggs are marked with three USDA categories and how long your eggs are good for. So read on to find out!
What Exactly is Egg Marking?
Marking eggs is the process of writing on the shells of eggs to keep track of their production and the breed of chicken that laid the egg.
While the USDA does not legally require it to mark eggs, most manufacturers will label the container they come in. However, in the United Kingdom, chicken owners with more than 50 laying hens to mark their eggs safely.
In the commercial world, eggs are usually marked by a machine that will print the best by date and the production date.
Why Should Eggs Be Marked?
Ideally, marking the eggs makes it easier to:
- Identify the breed of chicken
- Show whether eggs are free-range, organic, or caged
- Identify the production date
Are Sharpies Toxic?
Sharpies are non-toxic and contain the following ingredients:
- Diacetone alcohol
- Propyl alcohol
Is it Bad to Eat Eggs Marked With A Sharpie?
Sharpie’s website says that though their markers are AP certified non-toxic, they do not recommend using them on anything that will be eaten or come in contact with the mouth.
Eggshells are porous, so it’s important to remember that anything with chemicals used on the shells does have the ability to leach into the yolk and potentially contaminate it.
Chemicals can also bleed through and affect a growing embryo.
What Can I Use to Mark Eggs?
It’s best to stick to graphite pencils to mark your eggs. Be sure not to use any containing lead, though most pencils do not contain lead today.
You should avoid using wax pens or crayons on your eggshells as the wax can block the pores in the shell.
And you want to avoid any marker that contains xylene.
What is Xylene?
Xylene is a powerful chemical compound found in several household and industrial items such as; varnish, rubber, plastics, fabrics, etc. Exposure to it in any fashion is bad for your health.
Xylene can have several harmful effects on human skin, so it’s easy to understand why it would have the same impact on a growing embryo.
If inhaled, xylene can also affect the nervous system, such as headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, sleepiness, and in very rare cases, even death.
The amounts needed to cause such damage would be extensive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. No one wants to see a baby chick affected negatively by chemicals, and most of us do not wish to ingest anything contaminated.
What Do All the Dates on an Egg Carton mean?
If you look at an egg carton you will get at your grocery store; you will notice several numbers and dates. It can get confusing, can’t it? So, what do they all mean?
The Julian Date
The Julian date, typically found on the short side of the carton, tells you when the batch of eggs were graded, washed, and packaged. The three-digit code represents the day of the year.
For example, January 1 would read 001, and December 31 would read 365.
Sell By Date
Most manufacturers will also print a sell-by or expiration date. Though the United States Federal Government does not require them, different states may require dates.
Eggs should always be purchased before the sell-by or expiration date. USDA graded and packaged eggs can not have a date that exceeds 30 days from the day the egg was packed.
How Does the USDA Grade Eggs?
The USDA grades eggs on the condition of both their exterior and interior. This helps to establish standards for the quality of the egg.
The USDA divides eggs into three separate grades.
USDA Grade B
You are unlikely to find Grade B eggs in the supermarket. They are safe to eat but do not meet the same standards as other grades. Grade B eggs are typically used in dried, frozen, or liquid egg products.
Grade B eggs can be abnormal in shape with some shell discoloration, but they must have an unbroken shell. The egg white can be weak or watery, and the yolk can be dark, enlarged, and flattened.
Small blood spots may be present in the yolk, but they have no ill effects.
USDA Grade A
The bar gets set a little higher for Grade A eggs. The shells must be clean, unbroken, and of normal shape. The whites should be firm and clear, and the yolk should be fairly defined. It also must be free of any obvious defects.
USDA Grade AA
USDA Grade AA is the highest grade given by the United States Government. In addition, these eggs must have normally shaped, unbroken shells that are exceptionally clean.
The whites must be firm and clear. The yolk can be slightly defined when handled, and the yolk must be entirely free of apparent defects.
How Long Are Eggs Good For?
One of the benefits of marking your eggs is that you can track how long they are edible.
Fresh, unwashed eggs can be left unrefrigerated for about two weeks. Once they are put in the fridge, they are good for another three months or so.
While Americans are used to refrigerating eggs right away, it’s very common to see unrefrigerated eggs in Europe, which is perfectly safe.
After washing the eggs, they must be put in the refrigerator immediately and last about two months.
Is It Better to Leave Eggs Unwashed?
If you want to prolong the time you can safely eat your eggs, leaving them unwashed is your best bet. This is because when eggs are laid, they have a protective cover called the bloom.
The bloom is amazing because it seals the egg’s pores shut, preventing air and bacteria from getting in.
When you wash an egg, you remove the bloom, which is why you must refrigerate immediately, as you want to prevent contamination.
It’s essential to keep track of your eggs, especially if you have a large flock. Knowing the safest way to label your eggs and how long they are fresh is vital for your and your family’s health.