Most eggs are bought and sold as shell eggs —meaning the eggs are still in the shell. Shell eggs that are not desirable for human consumption are called restricted eggs. The U.S. standards for shell eggs limit the number of restricted eggs that are permitted in consumer markets, and there are mandatory procedures for disposing of and distributing restricted eggs. These procedures are covered by the shell egg surveillance program monitored by AMS.
The Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), passed by Congress in 1970, sets forth requirements to ensure that eggs and egg products are wholesome, otherwise not adulterated, and properly labeled and packaged to protect the health and welfare of consumers of these products.
The EPIA provides for inspections of shell egg handlers to control the disposition of certain types of loss and undergrade eggs. It also mandates that shell eggs sold to consumers contain no more restricted eggs than permitted in U.S. Consumer Grade B and that restricted eggs be disposed of properly.