How do you know if those eggs in your refrigerator are still good? The average age of typical grocery-store eggs is 5 weeks. By the time the eggs are collected, stored for inspection, inspected, packaged, shipped, and stocked on the shelves, a month or more has elapsed. Local eggs from small farms – such as those sold at Garber’s or Landis Farms at 2md Street Market, or Palara Farm eggs at Liberty Market – are obviously going to be fresher, as there is no lengthy storage or shipping time involved.
Egg freshness and the air cell
The larger end of the egg contains the air cell (pocket) that forms after the egg is laid. Chicken eggs are graded according to the size of this air cell, measured during the candling process (inspecting the egg with light – a process originally involving actual candles). A very fresh egg has a small air cell and receives a grade of AA. As the size of the air cell increases, and the quality of the egg decreases, the grade moves from AA to A to B. As the size of the air cell increases, the egg itself becomes less dense and the large end of the egg will rise to increasingly shallower levels when placed in a bowl of water. A very old egg will actually float in water and should not be eaten.
Although the age of the egg and the conditions of its storage have a greater influence than what the bird eats, the bird’s diet does have an effect on the flavor of the egg. For example, when the breeds of chickens which lay brown eggs eat rapeseed or soy meals, the microbes in their intestinal tract will metabolize these grains into the fishy-smelling tertiary amine known astriethylaminewhich ends up in the egg. The unpredictable diet of free-range hens can produce unpredictable eggs. For those individuals wishing to avoid soy in their diet for these and other reasons, Liberty Market does carry eggs from Palara Farms hens that do NOT eat soy meals or other soy products – so the eggs are soy-free.
Although the egg industry argues the point, antibiotic resistance in humans appears to be directly related to the use of antibiotics in eggs. Information obtained by the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance (CIPARS) “strongly indicates that cephalosporin resistance in humans is moving in lockstep with use of the drug in poultry production.” According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the unapproved antibiotic ceftiofur is routinely injected into eggs in Quebec and Ontario to discourage infection of hatchlings. A National Institute of Health report on the use of antibiotics in American poultry concluded that “…the voluntary removal of antibiotics from large-scale U.S. poultry farms…is associated with a lower prevalence of antibiotic-resistant and MDR Enterococcus.”.
Health experts advise people to refrigerate eggs, use them within two weeks, cook them thoroughly, and never eat raw eggs; however, the risk of infection from raw or undercooked eggs is dependent in part upon the sanitary conditions under which the hens are kept. Egg shells act as hermetic seals, guarding against the entrance of bacteria, but this seal can be broken through improper handling or if laid by unhealthy chickens. Most forms of contamination enter through such weaknesses in the shell (healthy chickens raised in healthy surroundings with a good diet lay eggs with strong shells).
Currently in the UK, the British Egg Industry Council awards the Lion Quality Mark to eggs that comes from hens that have been vaccinated against Salmonella.This mark is stamped upon eggs which meet certain criteria of poultry welfare,feeding, traceability and freshness standards of eggs. Last year, according to data from the Health Protection Agency of England and Wales, there were just 581 cases of salmonella in those countries, a drop of 96 percent from 1997. In the United States in 2010, there were 2,290 hospitalizations and 29 deaths due to Salmonella, according to a study published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The American Food and Drug Administration rejected the idea of requiring salmonella vaccination of hens — a precaution that would cost less than a penny per a dozen eggs.
Your safest bet is to obtain eggs from small egg farms who treat their chickens kindly, feed them well, and maintain sanitary conditions for them. Palara Farm does all this and provides organic, free-range eggs that are soy free.
Liberty Market sells Palara Farm eggs in either a half-dozen or dozen (and they’re mostly a beautiful shade of blue). Shop Liberty Market Saturdays 9-4 and Monday thru Thursday 5-8. Liberty Market is located at the northwest corner of Woodman Drive and Patterson Road in Kettering.
Garber Farm and Landis Farm eggs can be purchased Thursdays and Fridays from 11-3 or Saturdays 8-3 at 2nd Street Market.
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