The Humble Egg Comes at a Cost
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
The humble chicken egg. Despite containing a notable amount of cholesterol it is considered a rich source of nutrients that our bodies need (Harvard School of Public Health, 2018). Dietary recommendations have changed somewhat in recent years (Los Angeles Times, 2016); having an average of one egg most days (or even every day) is considered compatible with a healthy diet. They are an especially good option for vegetarians, being a good alternative source of protein rather than meat. So let's get cracking on guilt-free omelettes! Not so fast.
Animals Australia recently released an easy-to-read summary of egg labelling terms and their meaning. Unfortunately, there remain ethical and animal welfare issues pertaining to the egg production supply chain, including "free range" and "organic". The report, Making sense of egg labels, is linked to in the article references; the following is a concise summary (Animals Australia, 2016):
Figure 1: Egg Labelling (Property of Animals Australia, 2016)
Unfortunately, there are no great options.
Cage hens often end up with around the space of an A4 sheet of paper, unable to carry out instinctive, natural behaviours.
Debeaking occurs at 1 day of age and causes great pain and distress.
Having no utility to the egg production process, male chicks are killed immediately - usually on the day of birth.
Hens prefer well-lit spaces for feeding. The prevailing low-light intensity in their surroundings leads to ongoing discomfort, particularly with erratic shifts to bright light (such as during inspections).
Though this may make depressing reading, we believe that ignorance is not bliss.
Please consider buying from a local, traditional farm if you can, or choose the 'least-harmful' pack of eggs on your next shopping trip.
Alternatively, why not keep some chicken yourself? They are truly lovely animals, worthy of our respect and care. And you can't get fresher eggs than that.
Animals Australia, 2016. "Making Sense of Egg Labels". Accessed: 7 Apr 2018. http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/making-sense-egg-labels.php
Egg Nutrition Council, 2016. "How Many Eggs?". Accessed: 7 April 2018. https://www.enc.org.au/position-statements/how-many-eggs/
Harvard School of Public Health, 2018. "The Nutrition Source: Eggs". Accessed: 7 April 2018. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/
Los Angeles times (Healy, M.), 2016. "New Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Watch your sugar, but enjoy the eggs and coffee". Accessed: 7 April 2018. www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-dietary-guidelines-eggs-coffee-20160107-story.html