I was on Facebook the other day, where I lurk on some farming and food sites and came across a lady who was wanting to sell eggs from her backyard flock. Here is her verbatim comment:
I know this is been asked before, and I’m not asking this to start an argument or any drama..but what is the average going rate for a dozen fresh eggs? I thought it was about $5 a dozen and I’ve had a lot of people think that’s pretty steep because you can get $5 for an 18 pack of the grocery store. My thought is these are farm fresh eggs not six-month-old chemical dip pasteurized grocery store eggs hah…what do you charge?
WELL….my blood pressure increased when I came to the last sentence and I waited for several hours for it to return to normal before I replied with this comment:
I really wish that there was more education around “grocery store” eggs. This isn’t meant to be argumentative, but to provide a balanced approach. The eggs that go to grocery stores are also farm raised, no antibiotics, are not pasteurized, but are washed, candled, graded and packaged and shipped to the grocery stores within 1 week of pickup. Not even sure what a chemical dip is—would be illegal from a CFIA perspective. I totally support all farmers and consumers having choice but find it difficult when different types of farmers are being bashed.
After taking some time to reflect, I did some research on the chemical dip comment. Misinformation usually starts somewhere, and I believe that we need to have science behind farming practices and along with that science, we need to find out the facts from credible sources. First step of research: I googled “chemical dipped eggs” and came across an article dated 1998 from the Journal of Applied Poultry Research about a trial whereby they used 3 types of chemicals (phenol, hydrogen peroxide, and this mouthful: polyhexamethylenebiguanide hydrochloride (PHMB) to prevent invasion of Salmonella organisms from entering hatching eggs. Now, the article is 20 years old and I was curious to know if this trial represented what actually happens at the breeder farms and at the hatcheries that use those eggs.
Next step: I contacted both the Alberta Hatching Egg Board and a commercial leghorn hatchery in Manitoba and talked to employees there to find out what they do. At the farm level, the eggs are not washed since this would remove the natural protective cuticle that coats the egg and can help prevent bacterial transfer. As well, no chemicals of any kind are applied to the eggs.
At the hatchery level, the eggs are sorted and put into carts. From there they go into the incubator and at day 18 are transferred to the hatcher. Eggs take 3 weeks from the time they are set to the point where chicks emerge. When the eggs are transferred, a bowl of formaldehyde is placed in the hatcher unit and natural evaporation is used to help minimize any potentially harmful microorganisms.
Just to be clear, the chicks that hatch from those fertile eggs come to my farm, are raised for five months, and as mature hens produce the great eggs that end up at local stores and in your kitchens. Eggs that end up in the grocery stores are NOT pasteurized. Eggs that have gone to the processing industry are pasteurized after they have been broken and the egg yolks and egg whites are separated.
Final step: When the eggs arrive at the grading station (you can find out more from my previous blog) the egg cartons are stamped with the best before date. That date is approximately 45 days for food products, this is the date for optimum freshness, but it doesn’t mean that you need to throw it out right away.
Ultimately, I want all consumers to be confident that the eggs that they purchase come from local farms, are safe to eat, are nutritious, economical and have been humanely raised.