LEGALESE — Eggs

grade-aWe eat a lot of eggs in my house.  My son, at age 15 and nearly 6 feet tall and growing, will occasionally eat a dozen at a time, fried, scrambled, deviled or boiled.  So I find myself at the egg case at the supermarket a lot, trying to decide between medium, large, jumbo, and grades A and AA.  Frankly, I don’t even know which is higher – A or AA.

What exactly are those things?

Well, the law has something to say about eggs, just like more or less everything else.

An egg, in case you didn’t know, is defined by O.C.G.A. 26-2-260 as “the shell egg of the domesticated chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or guinea.”  (Guinea hen, I presume, and not guinea pig.)  “Quality,” in case you couldn’t figure out what that means, we are told in the same code section is “the inherent properties of any product which determine its relative degree of excellence.”  I have to wonder how much debate there was on the Senate floor to come up with this definition.

Eggs are classified in many ways.  “Storage” eggs have been stored for 31 days or longer.  “Fresh” eggs have been stored for 30 days or less.  Size or weight classes range from “Jumbo” (minimum 30 ounces per dozen) to “Pee Wee” (minimum 15 ounces per dozen.)

Quality can be AA, A, or B.  To be AA, the shell has to be “clean, unbroken, [and] practically normal.”  The air cell has to be “one-eight inch or less in depth, unlimited movement, and free or bubbly.”  The Yolk has to be “slightly defined, practically free from defects” and the white “firm {and] clear.”

If the egg is Grade B, the shell is “clean to slightly stained (but not more than one thirty-second of surface if localized or one-sixteenth of surface if scattered), unbroken, abnormal.”  I have this image of an agriculture department worker doing spot checks on eggs and doing complicated math to determine if the brown spots on an egg constitute less than 1/16th of the entire surface area of the egg.  I also have an image of egg farmers lobbying congress about the difference between localized and scattered eggshell stains.  Everything.  I mean everything is important to someone, and can be immensely complicated.  Also, if you are talking about a Grade B egg, the air cell can be over 3/16th of an inch in depth, the yolk outline is “plainly visible, enlarged and flattened, clearly visible germ development but not blood, other serious defects.”  The white is “weak and watery, small blood and meat spots present (but not more than one-eighth inch in diameter aggregate.)”

If you are wondering how all the yolk, white, and air cell measurements are determined without breaking the egg, the answer is also in the code: “Candling.”  Oddly enough, while “Quality,” a perfectly ordinary, every day word that does not have a different meaning in Legalese is defined in the “definitions” section, “candling” is not.  I would presume it means holding up a candle or other light to the egg so you can see inside it, since when I Googled it that’s what the 4-H website told me it was.

So, now that I’ve ruined the simple pleasure of eating a good egg for you by over analyzing it, enjoy your breakfast!

About Lori Duff 352 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."

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