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What is grading of eggs, and is it mandatory?

Grading is an indication of quality and is voluntary, while inspection (for wholesomeness and safety) is mandatory. Companies that choose to have their eggs graded pay for this service from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA grade shield on the carton means the eggs were graded for quality and checked for weight (size) under the supervision of a trained USDA grader. Compliance with quality standards, grades, and weights is monitored by USDA. State agencies monitor egg packers who do not use the USDA grading service, and those cartons will bear a term such as “Grade A” without the USDA shield.