The Scoop On Eggs
Many of us start the day with eggs, but how much do you know about them? There are so many options available today, it's no longer just size and colour. On a mission to find "the best eggs" I've put together a list of the types of eggs you can get in North America and Australia and some information on each.
1. EGG OPTIONS
Cage Eggs- produced from hens living in cages
53% of eggs sold are cage eggs according to the Australian Egg Corporation.
There is a push to outlaw the production of cage eggs here and supermarkets such as Coles have dropped the prices on free range eggs, to encourage customers to steer away from cage eggs.
FREE RANGE EGGS: produced from hens that are free to roam. Hen per hectare varies by farm
In Canada free-range means hens see the light of day (depending on the season) and their feet come in contact with the earth.
Although the term "free-range" is not legally defined in Canada, it generally means birds have some access to the outdoors.
Demand for free range chickens have been growing in Canada, but partly due to Canada's harsh winters, its makes it hard to let chickens outside.
More than half of Australians are opting to buy Free Range eggs and it's becoming the fastest growing egg sector.
In Australia there is no legal definition of the term "free-range", so standards between farms can vary dramatically. Queensland is the only state that has legislated 1,500 hens per hectare and is labelled as such on the egg carton.
Coles and Woolworths, Australia's main grocery chain stores have set their own free range standards of 10,000 hens per hectare, but that's still nearly seven times the Model Code limit.
A good egg resource is Humane Choice. They have compiled a useful Consumer Guide to Free Range Eggs.
CERTIFIED ORGANIC- produced from hens kept on free range farms and fed 95% certified organic grains
Certified Organic means the hens have the highest welfare standards. They must be raised from birth on organic feed. The SPCA Certified label assures eggs come from farms that have passed their animal welfare standards (such as minimum space requirements of two square feet per bird).
To use the Australian Certified Organic Bud logo, egg farmers can’t stock more than 1500 birds per hectare if they are set stocking or up to 2500 birds per hectare for layers on pasture rotations. These are equal to the strictest interpretations of any of the varying free-range standards available.
In Australia when I saw eggs just sitting on the shelf, I was baffled. How? Why? Am I going to get sick? North America sells eggs refrigerated! Here is the explanation:
In North America, large-scale housing is more popular and the environment makes eggs more susceptible to contamination. Eggs have to be washed before being packaged because of fears of salmonella on the outside of the egg.
Washing the egg weakens the shell making them more susceptible to salmonella. To counter balance this, the egg must be immediately moved to a fridge (7 degrees Celsius or lower) and must stay refrigerated so the egg doesn't sweat and cause mould.
In Australia, Salmonella is not as prevalent and egg farmers carry out a number of measures to minimize the presence of Salmonella. The priority is in the egg production, rather than cleaning after.
3. Yolk Colour
The yolk colour in Australian eggs are a gorgeous orange colour compared to my usual pale yolked eggs from Canada. Were the chickens cuddled? Was free range really making a difference?
The truth is, it is not natural for yolks to be a consistent shade of deep orange to yellow. The colour of the yolk is affected by the hens diet.
So when the yolks can't become yellow naturally through the hen's diet, Australian farmers may use synthetic dyes to change the colour. These food dyes are derived from agents such as paprika, capsicum and marigold and are manufactured in China and are not regulated by Food Standards Australia.
It is best to check with the company producing the eggs, if they use any additives in their feed.
My top three choices Australian eggs are all certified organic and have a stocking density of 1500 chickens per hectare
- Fraser Coast Organic Free Eggs
- Country CRF Organic Free Range
- Southern Highlands Organic Free Range