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In the major egg producing states, flocks of 100,000 laying hens are not unusual and some flocks number more than 1 million. Each of the roughly 280 million laying birds in the U.S. produces from 250 to 300 eggs a year. In total, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10% of the world supply.
Each year, about 60% of the eggs produced are used by consumers, about 9% are used by the foodservice industry and the rest are turned into egg products which are used mostly by foodservice operators to make the meals we eat in restaurants and by food manufacturers to make foods like mayonnaise and cakes mixes.
Using highly sophisticated technology, egg producers have kept prices low. While other food costs have skyrocketed, eggs continue to be one of nature’s best bargains among high-quality protein foods.
Choline egg yolks are an excellent and important source of choline. A Large egg yolk contains 125 mg of choline and provides 23% of a pregnant woman’s daily needs. Choline intake during pregnancy may be a key factor in the development of infants’ memory functions and, later in life, choline may improve memory capacity, perhaps nearly as important as folic acid!
Lutein and Zeazanthin: The yolk gets its color from the yellow-orange plant pigments called lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to reduce the risks of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in those 65 and older. Research has shown that, due to the egg yolk’s fat content, the yolk’s lutein and zeaxanthin may be more easily absorbed by the body than the lutein and zeaxanthin from other sources. A Large egg yolk contains 166 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin
Incredibly, eggs are also a good source of vitamin B12 (10.8 % of the DRV) and riboflavin (14% of the RDI) and supply varying amounts of many other nutrients, including a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals. The yolk contains a higher percentage of the eggs’ vitamins than the white, including all of the eggs’ vitamins A, D and E. Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
About 60% of the eggs produced in the U.S. each year are used by consumers and about 9% are used by the foodservice industry. The rest are turned into egg products which are used mostly by foodservice operators to make restaurant meals and by food manufacturers to make foods such as mayonnaise and cake mixes.
The white of a Large egg measures about 2 tablespoons’ worth of liquid, the yolk is about 1 tablespoon and the whole egg is about 3 tablespoons
Yolk color depends on the plant pigments in the hens’ feed. Natural yellow-orange substances, such as marigold petals, may be added to light-colored feed to enhance color. Artificial colors are not permitted
Egg protein is both high in quality and low in cost. It’s easy to compare the price of eggs to the price of other protein foods. A dozen Large eggs weigh 1 1/2 pounds, so the price per pound of Large eggs is two-thirds of the price per dozen. For example, if Large eggs cost 90¢ per dozen, they cost 60¢ per pound. At $1.20 per dozen, Large eggs are only 80¢ per pound.
Dates on egg cartons and all other food packaging reflect food quality, not food safety. An ‘expiration’ or ‘sell-by’ date on an egg carton tells the grocer to pull the eggs if they haven’t sold by that time. A ‘best-by’ or ‘use-by’ date tells you that your eggs will still be of high quality if you use them by that date.
You can keep fresh, uncooked eggs in the shell refrigerated in their cartons for at least three weeks after you bring them home, with insignificant quality loss. Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely spoil. If you keep them long enough, eggs are more likely to simply dry up. But don’t leave eggs out. They’ll age more in one day at room temperature than they will in one week in the refrigerator. There is often an issue of salmonella contamination on the OUTSIDE of the egg -- wash your hands after handling shells!
To tell if an egg is raw or hard-boiled, spin it. Because the liquids have set into a solid, a hard-boiled egg will easily spin. The moving liquids in a raw egg will cause it to wobble.
You really can have egg on your face. As egg white tends to be drying, it has long been used as a facial. Egg yolks are used in shampoos and conditioners and, sometimes, soaps. Cholesterol, lecithin and some of the egg’s fatty acids are used in skin care products, such as revitalizers, make-up foundations and even lipstick.
Eggs are quite possibly the world's perfect protein source. The six grams of protein in each egg has the highest biological value—a measure of how well it supports your body's protein needs—of any food, including beef. The yolks contain vitamin B12, deficiencies of which can cause attention, mood, and thinking problems.
Depending on where you're getting your eggs, though, you could be getting a lot more of stuff you don’t want. First you'll get some arsenic, added to feed to promote growth in hens but linked to various forms of cancer in people, and an extra dose of antibiotics, also used to promote growth but linked to antibiotic resistance and even obesity in people. Then add a heaping helping of salmonella. A 2010 study published in the journal Veterinary Record found that the eggs from hens confined to cages, as they often are in factory farms, had 7.77-times greater odds of harboring salmonella bacteria than eggs from non-caged hens.
You wouldn't know that based on what's starting to appear on egg cartons. Labels like "natural" and "cage-free" make eggs seem like they came from down on the farm, from chickens living happy lives and eating bugs. But that's not always the case. If all you want is healthy protein, it's time to start scrutinizing egg cartons.
Following are nine of the most common egg-carton claims and what they mean for your health.
What It Means: "Cage-free is certainly not like Old McDonald's farm," explains Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States. Generally, it means that animals are not kept in the tiny battery cages used in most egg operations. It doesn't mean the animals live outside or that they eat a diet free of arsenic and antibiotics. It is true that cage-free operations are slightly healthier for you. Cages generate more fecal dust, are associated with more disease-carrying rodents and insects, involve many cages that are difficult to disinfect, and lead to low natural immunity in stressed-out hens.
Can You Trust It? No. There's no independent third party that certifies egg producers as cage-free, so you really have to take producers at their word.
What It Means: Usually these types of operations allow chickens outside of cages in barns or warehouses, but they aren't required to provide the animals any specific amount of time outside—or even exposure to sunlight indoors. Chickens can still be debeaked or forced into molting, a practice used to keep hens laying eggs for a longer period of time, usually accomplished by starving the chickens, according to the Humane Society.
Can You Trust It? No. Like "cage-free," there's no independent body that certifies hens as receiving adequate access to the outdoors, and the USDA has set no standards for using the claim on egg cartons.
What It Means: A USDA-certified organic label means the eggs came from hens that were not enclosed in battery cages, and that must be offered access to the outdoors. But the amount and duration of outdoor access isn't well defined. Organic eggs come from hens that were fed certified-organic feed, free of things like arsenic and antibiotics, pesticides, animal byproducts, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Forced molting and debeaking are permitted in certified-organic production.
Can You Trust It? Yes. Egg producers are subject to annual audits of their operations and must pay a fee to be certified.
What It Means: This means that the finished product hasn't undergone certain unnatural processes; in this case, that product is the egg.
Can You Trust It? NO! Neither the FDA nor the USDA have set any definitions for the word "natural" when it comes to eggs, and it's highly misleading. "Natural" eggs may have come from hens pumped up with antibiotics, fed feed containing arsenic or genetically modified corn or soy. And it certainly doesn't mean the chickens were raised in clean, humane conditions.
What It Means: Hens were fed feed with an increased amount of omega-3s, which may have come from flaxseeds, fish oil or algae. Technically, caged hens could also be fed flax feed, so don't equate this label with better living standards.
Can You Trust It? Sort of. You can always compare omega-3 claims with the Nutrition Info panel on the carton. Factory-farmed eggs naturally have about 50 milligrams and many "omega-3 enriched" eggs often have that same amount. So you're paying twice the price for regular eggs. Furthermore, there's no guarantee you're getting the beneficial EPA and DHA oils found in fish and algae. You could be getting ALA omega 3s from flaxseed, which are still healthy but not as beneficial. Finally, keep in mind that pastured eggs have twice the amount of beneficial omega-3s as factory-farmed eggs anyway, and the hens get to be outside.