Specialty Eggs

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					                                  S p e c ia l t y
                                  In an effort to meet consumer demand, egg           Vegetarian Eggs
                                  producers have begun marketing vegetarian,
                                  organic, cage-free, free-range, fertile, in-shell   Vegetarian eggs are produced by hens whose
                                  pasteurized, and nutrient-enhanced specialty        feed is free of animal by-products.
                                  eggs. These eggs offer alternative choices to
                                  consumers with special needs and preferences.       Aracauna Eggs
                                  Due to higher production costs, specialty eggs      Aracauna eggs are from Aracauna chickens,
Due to higher                     are usually more expensive than generic shell       native to South America. Nutritionally, these
                                  eggs.                                               bluish-green eggs are not much different from
production costs,
                                  Since the nutrient content of an egg can be         traditional white and brown eggs you might
specialty eggs are                changed only by altering the hen’s feed, spe-       find at the local grocery store. Actually, even
                                  cialty varieties such as cage-free and organic      though many consumers think these eggs are
usually more                      eggs have the same nutritional value as generic     lower in cholesterol, eggs from this breed have
                                  varieties. Nutritionally-enhanced varieties         a higher cholesterol content.
expensive than                    such as omega-3 enriched eggs provide higher
                                  levels of certain nutrients because these nutri-
                                                                                      Pasteurized Shell Eggs
generic shell eggs.               ents are enhanced in the hens’ feed. Nutrient       Pasteurized shell eggs are a good choice for
                                  content cannot be altered by changing envi-         people who want to use raw eggs in recipes
                                  ronmental conditions.                               that do not require further cooking, such as
                                                                                      homemade ice-cream or Caesar salad dressing.
                                  Currently there are no set definitions for spe-
                                                                                      These eggs have been heat treated to kill po-
                                  cialty eggs and consumers are advised to read
                                                                                      tential salmonella bacteria found inside. (The
                                  labels before buying.
                                                                                      risk of purchasing an egg contaminated with
                                  Organic Eggs                                        salmonella bacteria is one in 20,000 eggs.)
                                                                                      However, due to the heat processing, these
                                  In October 2002, the National Organic Stan-         eggs may have slightly lower levels of heat-
                                  dard Board set national guidelines that must        sensitive vitamins.
                                  be met by producers wishing to market
                                  “organic” eggs. (Specific organic standards         Fertile Eggs
                                  may be found at
                                                                                      Some cultures consider fertile eggs a delicacy.
                                  Organic eggs are produced by hens given feed
                                                                                      But aside from coming from a hen that has
                                  grown without most conventional pesticides,
                                                                                      possibly mated with a rooster, there is no nu-
                                  fungicides, herbicides, or commercial fertiliz-
                                                                                      tritional difference between fertile eggs and
                                  ers. The use of growth hormones is also pro-
                                                                                      generic eggs.
                                  hibited by the new organic standards. Growth
                                  hormones are not used in commercial egg pro-        Thoroughly cooking generic shell eggs until
                                  duction in the United States. Consumers can         whites are firm and yolks are beginning to
                                  be confident that all eggs are hormone-free,        thicken will also destroy any potential salmo-
                                  whether or not they are labeled as such. Na-        nella bacteria in the egg.
                                  tional organic standards also prohibit the use
                                  of antibiotics. While antibiotics are sometimes     Cage-Free Alternatives
                                  used to treat sick birds, this is not a routine
 1050 17th St. NW, Suite 560
                                  industry practice. Hens typically stop laying       Most hens are housed in large laying facilities
 Washington, DC 20036
 202-833-8850 Fax: 202-463-0102   eggs when ill.                                      that use cage systems. This provides hens with
                                                                                      optimal temperature, humidity, feed, water,
                         Specialty Eggs
                         laying space, and security. Even though this       since the birds tend to peck at and injure each
                         housing method may seem to limit a hen’s           other. The nutrient content of eggs from
                         freedom, it is actually designed for the welfare   free-range and cage-free hens is the same as
                         of the birds as well as for production effi-       for those produced by hens housed in cages.
                         ciency. In the hen house, the birds are more
                         readily protected from the elements, from          United Egg Producers Certified
                         disease, and from both natural and unnatural       Eggs
                         predators (i.e. automobiles). Housing hens
                         also makes it possible to control their diet       Egg producers have also begun implementing
                         which results in better-fed hens that produce      new animal welfare standards that improve
                         higher-quality eggs. Egg producers are also        the care and handling of egg-laying hens.
                         phasing in larger cages or allowing more space     These standards were developed by an inde-
                         to house the birds. However, for consumers         pendent scientific advisory committee made
                         who object to housing hens in cages, alterna-      up of scientists from government agencies,
                         tive choices are available such as free-range      academia, and the US Humane Association.
                         and cage-free eggs.                                These guidelines, adopted by the United Egg
                                                                            Producers (UEP), assure that United Egg Pro-
                         Free-range eggs come from hens that are ei-        ducers Certified Eggs come from hens living
                         ther raised outdoors or have access to the out-    in humane conditions with attention to living
                         doors. Due to seasonal conditions, however,        environment, health care, and treatment. (Egg
                         few hens are actually raised outdoors and ac-      producers participating in the UEP Certified
                         cess to outdoors can vary greatly between pro-     program are audited annually by a third party
                         ducers.                                            organization. For more information, see
                                                                   When you purchase
                         Cage-free eggs come from hens living in in-        UEP Certified eggs, you can be sure that ani-
                         door floor facilities. These hens do not neces-    mal welfare and health were important factors
                         sarily have access to the outdoors. They usu-      considered in producing the eggs.
                         ally live on the floor of a barn or poultry
                         house. Mortality rates are higher in hens liv-
                         ing in free-range and cage-free environments

                         Nutrient-Enhanced Eggs
                         Commercially raised hens are fed specially         health benefits associated with this fatty acid.
Where to Buy             formulated feed that consists of corn, cotton-     Higher vitamin E content is an additional
Specialty Eggs           seed, soybean meal, and/or sorghum—                benefit of omega-3 enriched eggs.
                         depending on which grain is most affordable.
Most large grocery       Sometimes animal by-products are also added
stores carry specialty   to increase protein content. The feed is care-
eggs. They can usu-      fully balanced by a poultry nutrition specialist
ally be found in the     to combine the right amounts of protein, fat,
dairy section next to    carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. By
the generic shell        adding certain ingredients to the feed, some
eggs. For more infor-    producers are enhancing the nutrient content
mation about spe-
                         of their eggs.
cialty eggs, check       Omega-3
our website                                                                 Lutein
(     By including flax, marine algae, or fish oils in
links.htm). Specialty    the feed, omega-3 fatty acid content in egg        Eggs from birds raised on a diet that includes
egg companies can        yolks can be dramatically increased. These         marigold extract are high in lutein, a nutrient
provide you with         omega-3 fatty acid enriched eggs are a good        that has been shown to reduce the risk of
more detailed infor-     choice for people who want to increase their       macular degeneration (the leading cause of
mation about their       intake of omega-3 fatty acids, but do not          blindness in people 65 and older.) According
products.                regularly eat fish. The demand for omega-3         to one study, lutein in eggs is better absorbed
                         eggs is increasing as we learn more about the      by the body than is lutein from other sources.

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