What's up with brownish specks in eggs?

A brown spot in an egg white is a harmless "meat spot."

What you see: A dark brown or reddish speck, most likely in the egg white What it is: A meat spot, likely a tiny piece of the chicken's reproductive tract that flaked off and landed in the egg Eat or toss? Eat! Just cook your egg as usual

A couple months ago we wrote about blood spots, which are actual dots of blood that appear in the egg. But this little bugger is brown and doesn't look terribly, um, bloody. So what’s going on?

This isn’t blood, but is just a bit of protein that hitched a ride as this egg was forming in the chicken (for a fascinating look at how that process happens, check out the “virtual chicken” from Auburn University). It could be a leftover bit from another egg or a tiny piece of tissue that flaked off from the chicken’s reproductive tract. As long as you cook your egg, it's just as safe to eat as the rest of the egg.

It’s likely that this egg came from an older hen, says Pat Curtis, head of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science at North Carolina State Univeristy. “You tend to see more of these in older birds because they’re going to produce less perfect eggs over time.” But, she said, it can happen to any chicken and is nothing to be ashamed of. “Occasionally, it will happen with a young bird. Everybody makes mistakes and this is just an interior mistake.”

Egg companies try to weed out eggs with blood and meat spots by scanning them with high intensity lights (it's a process called candling that originally used, you guessed it, candles). But even with modern technology they can't catch every wayward spot, so you may see these imperfections from time to time.


Pat Curtis - Head of Prestage Department of Poultry Science - North Carolina State University

Meat Spots - The PoultrySite.com

What Is a Meat Spot? Extension.org

What does blood spot in an egg mean? Is the egg okay to eat? Egg Safety Center

Candling - Eggcyclopedia

More meat? Egg-xactly!

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