The objective of this study was to investigate intrinsic fluorophores of thick albumen and egg yolk in order to assess egg freshness during storage at a temperature of 12.2 degrees C and 87% relative humidity (RH). A total of 126 intact brown-shelled eggs of the same flock (29 weeks of age) were stored for 1, 6, 8, 12, 15, 20, 22, 26, 29, 33, 40, 47 and 55 days. The emission fluorescence spectra of aromatic amino acids and nucleic acids (AAA + NA) (excitation: 250 nm; emission: 280-450 nm), fluorescent Maillard reaction products (FMRP) (excitation: 360 nm; emission: 380-580 nm) and the excitation spectra of vitamin A (emission: 410 nm; excitation: 270-350 nm) were scanned on thick albumen and egg yolk. Among the intrinsic fluorophores, only the principal component analysis (PCA) applied on the vitamin A fluorescence spectra allowed a good identification of eggs as a function of their storage time. Factorial discriminant analysis (FDA) was then applied on the first five principal components (PCs) of the PCA applied on each spectral data set. Regarding AAA + NA recorded on thick albumen, correct classification of 69.4% and 63.9% was observed for the calibration and validation sets, respectively. Quite similar results were obtained on AAA + NA scanned on egg yolks. The best results were obtained with vitamin A fluorescence spectra since 97.7% and 85.7% of the calibration and validation sets was obtained, respectively. These results showed that vitamin A fluorescence spectra provide useful fingerprints, mainly allow the identification of eggs during storage and could be considered as a powerful intrinsic probe for the evaluation of egg freshness. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.