Those 12 gleaming white eggs you see when opening a carton at the supermarket don't get that way by accident.

They are the end product of producers who take pride in their work and state inspectors who enforce standards imposed on the egg industry, according to G. Bryant Strasburg, supervisor of egg and poultry grading for the Utah Department of Agriculture.Strasburg and his full- and part-time graders are responsible for supervising operations at several shell egg plants in Utah to make certain the eggs are washed, sanitized, covered with mineral oil to strengthen the shell, weighed and put in the cartons.

State inspectors are responsible for enforcing the Utah Shell Egg Law, which follows U.S. Department of Agriculture standards.

Strasburg conducts an egg surveillance program for USDA by visiting all egg producers quarterly as part of the Egg Products Inspection Act.

In addition to inspections at the egg producing plants, Strasburg also is responsible for inspections at Salt Lake Egg Co., an egg products company. Salt Lake Egg has a machine that breaks eggs. The yolks and whites are separated and used in various types of baking products and some are used in frozen dinners.

At the retail level, Strasburg's inspectors periodically examine cartons of eggs in area supermarkets to see if they meet USDA standards. The inspectors weigh the eggs, candle them to look for blood or meat spots, check for freshness and examine the soundness of the shell. They also check to see if the eggs are properly refrigerated.

The standards allow for some tolerance but any eggs not meeting the standards are sent to the producer or the person responsible.

"We want to make certain consumers get a wholesome product. We have excellent eggs in Utah. They are the freshest eggs possible," he said. - Roger Pusey