/eg/, n.1. the roundish reproductive body produced by the female of certain animals, as birds and most reptiles, consisting of an ovum and its envelope of albumen, jelly, membranes, egg case, or shell, according to species.2. such a body produced by a domestic bird, esp. the hen.3. the contents of an egg or eggs: raw egg; fried eggs.4. anything resembling a hen's egg.5. Also called egg cell. the female gamete; ovum.6. Informal. person: He's a good egg.7. Slang. an aerial bomb.8. egg on one's face, Informal. humiliation or embarrassment resulting from having said or done something foolish or unwise: They were afraid to back the losing candidate and wind up with egg on their faces.9. lay an egg, Informal. to fail wretchedly, esp. to be unsuccessful in front of an audience: He laid an egg as the romantic hero.10. put all one's eggs in one basket, to venture all of something that one possesses in a single enterprise.11. walk on eggs, to walk or act very cautiously.v.t.12. to prepare (food) by dipping in beaten egg.[bef. 900; ME < ON; r. ME ey, OE aeg, G Ei egg; akin to L ovum, Gk oión egg]Pronunciation. EGG, like beg, leg, and other words where "short e" precedes a "hard g" sound, is pronounced with the vowel /e/ of bet and let, except in parts of New England and the South Midland and southern U.S., where these words are frequently said with /-ayg/, to rhyme with vague and plague, especially in the speech of the less educated. This raising of /e/ to a higher vowel /ay/, articulated with the upper surface of the tongue closer to the palate, also occurs before /zh/, as in measure, pleasure, and treasure.egg2/eg/, v.t.to incite or urge; encourage (usually fol. by on).[1150-1200; ME < ON eggja to incite, deriv. of egg EDGE]
* * *In biology, the female sex cell, or gamete.In zoology, the Latin term ovum is often used to refer to the single cell, whereas the word egg may be applied to the entire specialized structure or capsule that consists of the ovum, its various protective membranes, and any accompanying nutritive materials. The egg or ovum, like the male gamete (sperm), bears only a single (haploid; see ploidy) set of chromosomes. When female and male gametes unite during fertilization, the double (diploid) set of chromosomes is restored in the resulting zygote. In humans, the ovum matures inside one of the ovary's follicles (hollow group of cells) and is released when the follicle ruptures (ovulation). The ovum passes into the fallopian tube and will degenerate if not fertilized within about 24 hours. In animals, the amount of nutritive material (yolk) deposited in an egg is dependent on the length of time before the developing animal can feed itself or, in the case of mammals, begins to receive nourishment from the maternal circulation. Most animal eggs are enclosed by one or more membranes. Insect eggs are covered by a thick, hard outer membrane, and amphibian eggs are surrounded by a jellylike layer. The term egg also refers to the content of the hard-shelled reproductive body produced by a bird or reptile.
* * *▪ biologyin biology, the female sex cell, or gamete. In botany the egg is sometimes called a macrogamete. In zoology the Latin term for egg, ovum, is frequently used to refer to the single cell, while the word egg may be applied to the entire specialized structure or capsule that consists of the ovum, its various protective membranes, and any accompanying nutritive materials. The human female reproductive cell is also usually called an ovum.The egg, like the male gamete, bears only a single (haploid) set of chromosomes. The egg, however, is usually larger than its male counterpart because it contains material to nourish the embryo during its early stages of development. In many animal species a large quantity of nutritive material, or yolk, is deposited in the egg, the amount depending on the length of time before the young animal can feed itself or, in the case of mammals, begins to receive nourishment from the maternal circulation. The plant egg is never so disproportionately large, because the developing sporophyte embryo is nourished until self-supporting by the plant on which it is formed (in liverworts, mosses, and ferns by the gametophyte; in seed plants by the sporophyte on which the gametophyte is parasitic).With the exception of those of some cnidarians (coelenterates), all animal eggs are enclosed by membranes, the innermost of which is called the vitelline membrane. The vitelline membrane is the only membrane in the eggs of various invertebrates—ctenophores, many worms, and echinoderms—and of certain lower chordates. All higher vertebrates and many invertebrates have one or more additional membranes. Insect eggs, for example, are covered by a thick, hard chorion, and the amphibian egg is surrounded by a jelly layer. The bird egg includes the vitelline membrane, the white of the egg, two egg shell membranes, and the outermost membrane, the shell. As pointed out above, this entire structure is commonly referred to as an egg.Mature eggs remain functional for a relatively short period of time, after which fertilization cannot occur. The eggs of most invertebrates, fish, and amphibians must be fertilized a few minutes after they are shed into the water; an exception is sea urchin eggs, which are viable for about 40 hours after their release. Most other animal eggs have life spans similar to that of the human egg—i.e., 12 to 24 hours. See also ovum.▪ foodIntroductionthe content of the hard-shelled reproductive body produced by a bird, considered as food.While the primary role of the egg obviously is to reproduce the species, most eggs laid by domestic fowl, except those specifically set aside for hatching, are not fertilized but are sold mainly for human consumption. Eggs produced in quantity come from chickens (chicken), ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, pigeons, pheasants, and quail. This article describes the processing of chicken eggs, which represent the bulk of egg production in the United States and Europe. Duck eggs are consumed as food in parts of Europe and Asia, and goose eggs are also a food in many European countries. Commercial production of turkey and pigeon eggs is almost entirely confined to those used for producing turkey poults and young pigeons (squabs). Pheasant and quail eggs provide birds for hobby or sport use.Characteristics of the eggStructure and compositionThe structural components of the egg are shown in Figure 1—>. They include the shell and shell membranes (10 percent); the albumen or white (60 percent), including the thick albumen, the outer thin albumen, the inner thin albumen, and the chalazae; and the yolk (30 percent). In a fertilized egg the yolk supplies the nutrients and the albumen supplies the water necessary for the development of the embryo. In addition, the layers of albumen act as a cushion to protect the embryo from jarring movements, while the chalazae help to maintain the orientation of the embryo within the egg.Nutrient composition of fresh chicken eggThe nutrient composition of chicken eggs is presented in the Table (Nutrient composition of fresh chicken egg). The whole egg is a source of high-quality protein (i.e., proteins that contain all the amino acids needed in the human diet). In addition, it is an excellent source of all vitamins (except vitamin C) and contains many essential minerals, including phosphorus and zinc. All the fats, or lipids (lipid), as well as the cholesterol are found in the yolk. Yolk lipids are high in unsaturated fatty acids (fatty acid), with the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids commonly being 2 to 1. By influencing the diet of the hen, some processors are able to market shell eggs with yet a higher ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids. Particular emphasis is being given to increasing the highly unsaturated long-chain omega-3 fatty acids by adding fish oil to the hen feed. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to play a role both in normal growth and development and in the prevention of many diseases.The cholesterol content of a whole large egg is approximately 216 milligrams—a substantially lower figure than that reported before the late 1980s, when improved analytical techniques were instituted. Moreover, the egg industry has probably made some progress in lowering cholesterol content through genetic selection and improved diets.MicrobiologyMore than 90 percent of all eggs are free of contamination at the time they are laid; contamination with Salmonella bacteria and with certain spoilage organisms occurs essentially afterward. Proper washing and sanitizing of eggs eliminates most Salmonella and spoilage organisms deposited on the shell. The organism Salmonella enteritidis, a common cause of gastroenteritis (a form of food poisoning), has been found to be transferred through the hen ovary in fewer than 1 percent of all eggs produced. Ovarian-transferred S. enteritidis can be controlled by thorough cooking of eggs (i.e., until there are no runny whites or yolk).Certain spoilage organisms (e.g., Alcaligenes, Proteus, Pseudomonas, and some molds) may produce green, pink, black, colourless, and other rots in eggs after long periods of storage. However, since eggs move through market channels rapidly, the modern consumer seldom encounters spoiled eggs.Fresh eggsFresh eggs are gathered on automatic collection belts at the farm and stored in a cooler at about 7° C (45° F). The eggs are then delivered to a central processing plant, where they are washed, sanitized, and graded. Grading involves the sorting of eggs into size and quality categories using automated machines. Flash candling (passing the eggs over a strong light source) detects any abnormalities such as cracked eggs and eggs containing bloodspots or other defects. Higher-grade eggs have a thick, upstanding white, an oval yolk, and a clean, smooth, unbroken shell.In the United States eggs are sized on the basis of a minimum weight per dozen in ounces. One dozen extra large eggs weigh 27 ounces (765 grams); large eggs, 24 ounces; medium eggs, 21 ounces. Weight standards in other countries vary, but most are measured in metric units. For example, eggs might be sold in cartons of 10 eggs each.Most eggs sold in modern supermarkets are approximately four to five days old. If kept refrigerated by the consumer, they will maintain good quality and flavour for about four weeks.Egg productsAlthough per capita consumption of fresh eggs has declined since 1950, the utilization of eggs in other food products has increased. As ingredients, egg products are tailored to suit the specific needs of the food processor. For example, the foaming properties of the white or yolk are important in bakery products; egg yolk serves as an emulsifier in mayonnaise and salad oils; and the addition of eggs to meats or other foods enhances their binding properties.Egg products, in the form of liquid, dried, or frozen eggs, are used as ingredients in many kinds of food products. In addition, specialty egg products are sold as convenience foods directly to the consumer or to food-service establishments.Liquid egg productsRefrigerated liquid egg products have become increasingly popular, especially in food-service establishments. Liquid egg products may be delivered in a variety of packages, including bulk tank trucks, smaller portable tanks or “totes,” paper cartons, hermetically sealed polyethylene bags, lacquer-coated tins, and plastic pails. These products include liquid egg whites, liquid egg yolks, and various blends of the whites and yolks. Normally, liquid egg products are pasteurized at 60° C (140° F) for 3.5 minutes and have a shelf life of two to six days. Some liquid egg products are processed using ultrapasteurization and aseptic packaging techniques to extend their shelf life to about six weeks.Dried egg productsDried or dehydrated eggs are less expensive to ship, more convenient to use, and easier to store than fresh whole eggs. Spray dryers are used to produce a high-quality egg product with foaming and emulsification properties similar to those of fresh eggs. The dehydrated eggs are packed in containers ranging from small pouches to large drums, depending on their commercial application. Several types of dried egg products are produced for various applications in the food industry (e.g., cake mixes, salad dressings, pasta). These products include dried egg white solids, instant egg white solids, stabilized (glucose removed) whole egg solids, and various blends of whole egg and yolk with sugar or corn syrup. Most dried egg products have a storage life of one year when refrigerated.Frozen egg productsFrozen egg products are often preferred as ingredients in certain food products. Salt, sugar, or corn syrup is normally added to yolks or whole eggs prior to freezing in order to prevent gelation or thickening of the products. Egg whites freeze well without any additives. Egg products are frozen at −23° C (−9° F) and are packed in different-sized pouches and waxed or plastic cartons. Products include egg whites, egg yolks, salted yolks, sugared yolks, salted whole eggs, sugared whole eggs, and various yolk and white blends with or without added sugar or salt. At frozen temperatures they have a shelf life of about one year.Specialty egg productsA number of specialty egg products are available to both individual consumers and institutions. Commercial salad bars utilize cryogenically frozen and diced hard-cooked eggs and pickled or plain hard-cooked eggs. Several frozen, precooked egg products are available in markets, including egg pizza, scrambled eggs, omelettes, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, crepes, and quiches. Several low-cholesterol or cholesterol-free egg substitutes have been developed by replacing the egg yolk with vegetable oils, emulsifiers, stabilizers, colour, vitamins, and minerals. Fat-free egg substitutes have also been developed for commercial use.Glenn W. FroningAdditional ReadingR. MacRae, R.K. Robinson, and M.J. Sadler (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Food Science, Food Technology, and Nutrition, 8 vol. (1993); and Y.H. Hui (ed.), Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology, 4 vol. (1992), are general works that cover all aspects of the science of food. P. Fellows, Food Processing Technology: Principles and Practices (1988), is an introductory text.R. Paul Singh William J. Stadelman and Owen J. Cotterill, Egg Science and Technology, 3rd ed. (1986, reissued 1990), provides in-depth information on egg chemistry, composition, specialized processes, functional properties, quality measurements, and new uses for eggs and egg products. G.W. Froning, “New Product Innovations from Eggs,” chapter 4 in B.J.F. Hudson (ed.), New and Developing Sources of Food Proteins (1994), pp. 71–94, provides information on new processing technologies and new egg products. William J. Stadelman et al., Egg and Poultry-Meat Processing (1988), deals with nutritional aspects and contains a full listing of USDA-approved poultry products.Glenn W. Froning
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