Eggs - love them or hate them, they are recognised as one of natures perfect foods.
It makes sense really, as each egg contains all the nutrients needed to grow a chicken so it must be a great source of food.
If the shell is intact the yolk and white inside an egg are sterile. This means there are no bacteria inside. The only exception to this is when bacteria are introduced into the egg during development inside the hen.
Eggs are a perfect food for food poisoning bacteria growth, especially those in the Salmonella group. That makes eggs out of the shell, a member of the Potentially Hazardous Foods.
Potentially hazardous foods must be kept below 5C (40F) and above 60C (141F) to reduce the growth of the food poisoning bacteria.
As with all foods, the surfaces coming into contact with the egg should be clean and sanitised (if in a food business). Hands should be washed properly and good hygiene should be in place.
Eggs that are cracked should not be used in raw foods, like dressings and mayonnaise as the bacteria that may have entered through the shell will not be killed before eating and food poisoning is likely. There have been many cases of food poisoning as a result of cracked eggs being used in raw foods.
Eggs should come from reputable suppliers. For food businesses this means the eggs should be coming from an approved supplier who has controls in place that meet the countries legal requirements. In Australia those requirements can be found in Chapter Four of the Food Standards Code.
All eggs sold in Australia must have some form of coding that will allow for traceability. This means that if there were a problem, the eggs can be tracked all the way back to the day and place they were laid. There was huge egg product recall in the USA a few years ago, where something like 50million eggs had to be tracked and then destroyed due to a potential food safety issue.
So eggs have to be kept in the fridge for them to be safe, right?
No, as long as eggs are not cracked, there is no food safety reason to keep them in the fridge. However, keeping eggs in the fridge slows down their respiration and extends their shelflife.
The shells of eggs are full of tiny pores that allow the egg to breath (respire) and cooling the egg will slow this down.
So keeping eggs cool is for quality reasons not for food safety.
How to tell if an egg is fresh?
Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of a container of water and older eggs will rise. This is due to the gases that slowly enter the egg over time from respiration and make the eggs slightly lighter.
How do I tell a fresh egg from a cooked one?
A fresh egg will wobble when spun and a cooked egg will spin easily. This is due to the yolk and white in the fresh egg moving when the egg is spinning.
There are basically three types of eggs; caged, organic and free range.
- Caged eggs are from hens held in cages and fed specific diets. These will be lowest cost eggs due to the automation.
- Organic eggs must meet specific requirements in terms of feed and environment. The hens are usually allowed to run within a large space, which may include outside, and are fed specific foods. These eggs will be more expensive due to the increased mortality rate and the organic requirements and certification. Can only be labelled as organic, if the eggs are actually organic.
- Free range eggs are from hens that are allowed to roam both inside and outside within a set space and there should be a maximum number of birds in a space. The hens are fed but can also source food themselves. Can only be labelled as Free Range if the hens actually meet free range requirements.
Europe has had domesticated fowl since 600BC.
It is believed that Columbus brought the modern commercial egg laying hen to Europe in his second trip in 1493
The modern commercial egg laying poultry species originated in Asia.
Caging of egg layers was introduced and encouraged as it reduced mortality rates and increased egg numbers. It also allowed for consistency in feed and conditions, which reduced the costs and therefore the price.
A large egg contains the following;
- 12% of the Daily Intake of Protein - recognised as one of the highest quality proteins available.
- 125mg Choline
- 10% DI of Vitamin B12
- 14% DI of Riboflavin
- Vitamins A, D and E
- The colour pigments have been found to reduce risks of Cataracts and Macular Degeneration
- Low Density Cholesterol (the good one)
Bits and Pieces
- Australia produces around 4.8 billion eggs each year (in the USA it is 75 billion)
- There is an Eggcyclopedia (www.incredibleegg.org)
- The domestic chicken is Gallus domestica
- There are around 200 chicken varieties / breeds
- Most eggs are laid between 7 and 11am
- Hens produce approximately 250-330 eggs each per year
- Older hens tend to lay bigger eggs.
- Large egg has two tablespoons of white and three tablespoons of yolk.
- Older eggs peel easier than really fresh eggs.
- The shell is up to 12% of the egg weight.
- Eggs will absorb odours.
- The number of pleats in a Chef's hat (called a Toque) is said to be the number of ways that eggs can be cooked.
- Eggs may explode in their shell if cooked in a microwave - the egg cannot breathe fast enough to prevent the gas building up.
- Meringue - was first used in Switzerland by a Pastry Chef in 1720.
- The world record for the number of omelettes flipped is 30 in just 34 seconds.
- The world record for the number of omelettes cooked is 427 in 30 minutes.
If you have found all these facts about eggs interesting and would like to know about more foods, pick up your FREE copy of "Five Hundred Foodie Facts" at www.fivehundredfoodfacts.com