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DOES EGGSHELL COLOR INDICATE EGG QUALITY?

The Eggshell Color Myth

Eggs provide high protein and have so many other beneficial nutrients. They are versatile in the kitchen, and are cheap and easy to buy at the grocery store. But what impacts the quality of an egg, exactly? Many people are under the impression that varying egg shell colors are an indicator of its quality.

The myth that egg shell colors impact that quality and nutrient value of an egg is simply false. It is believed that brown eggs are more “natural” and that white eggs have been treated to appear fresher because they get bleached. While this belief is untrue, it is a fact that all eggs are washed with a chemical sanitizer (verified by USDA) to remove harmful bacteria in the US. They are then coated with mineral oil to reduce the rate of moisture loss*. So as a factor for health, this is something to keep in mind, but has nothing to do with why white eggs are white. Brown eggs also have the reputation being higher in quality because they tend to cost more than white eggs. This is because hens who lay brown eggs lay fewer than those who lay white eggs. The reason why eggs vary in colors is because different breeds of hens lay different color eggs*. Most people do not think about whether it’s a White Leghorn chicken, a Plymouth Rock or Rhode Island Red, who lay white and brown eggs. Or an Araucana or Dongxiang, who lay blue or green eggs, although not commonly sold in grocery stores.

Ultimately the best way to ensure egg quality is to pay attention to the labels on the cartons for more insight into the hen’s diet. Some producers feed hens a diet rich in high omega-3’s, and other producers feed hens a simple vegetarian diet. Other “designer” eggs are produced from hens who consume feed that is supplemented or enriched with various oils, extracts, or seeds that can produce specific enhancements in eggs*. For example, carotenoids are what give egg yolks their yellow-orange hue and can be manipulated by feeding a hen carotenoid-rich extracts. While it's crucial to pay attention to the labels, it's just as important to be informed about the many misleading words used to influence us to buy a specific brand. Some labels have little to no meaning related to egg quality. It is illegal in the US to inject hormones to poultry like hens, so a “hormone-free” label is unnecessary. Another unnecessary label is “pasteurized” because all eggs are enforced to go through the pasteurization process by the USDA. For more information on navigating through the misleading labels on egg cartons, follow this link.

The conclusion to knowing egg quality is not by the eggshell color, but by what the chicken eats and how they’re treated. Buying eggs that are hatched by happy hens that are fed well, and have access to outdoors is going to produce the best quality eggs. We encourage shoppers to research the labels, and where the eggs are sourced from. TestSharing will be testing multiple types of eggs that vary in brand, to find out if any eggs contain toxins that can negatively affect our health. Stay tuned!