Fact Sheet © Jamie Oliver
Eggs are one of nature’s greatest food parcels! They are an excellent source of protein so can play a valuable part in a balanced diet, especially for vegetarians who aren’t get- ting protein in their diet from meat. Eggs are packed with essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein – and are vital for hormone production and for the growth and repair of the body.
Eggs are a good source of vitamins, particularly B vitamins and vitamins A, D and E. They are also a source of minerals including phosphorous, which is good for healthy bones, and zinc, which aids growth and contributes towards a healthy
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING EGGS?
British Lion eggs
You’ll see the British Lion mark on over 85% of eggs produced in the UK. This logo is the stamp of approval from the British Egg Marketing Board. The British Lion mark is proof that the eggs have been produced to the highest standards of food safety, and a strict code of practice incorporating the latest research and advice on eggs and salmonella (see below), so look for it when shopping.
BATTERY VS. FREE-RANGE
Most of the eggs sold in the EU are laid by hens kept in cramped, overcrowded cages stacked one on top of the other – these are known as ‘battery cages’. In caged systems, hens are kept four to a cage with less usable space than an A4 sheet of paper. Being kept in wire cages causes fragile bones and damaged feet and the cramped conditions prevent hens from flapping their wings, stretching and moving about.
This often causes frustration and aggression, from which there is no escape. Many people believe this is not a humane way to treat hens, and for that reason the majority of the UK retailers now sell free-range eggs, though this still makes up less than half of the UK production. Free- range hens live in barns with access to an outdoor range during the day where they can peck, dust bathe and scratch about (see All About Chickens).
Wherever possible, look for boxes of eggs with ‘free-range’ or the RSPCA’s Freedom Food logo on them. This logo indicates that the food has been produced according to higher standards of animal welfare. It’s the best way to know that the eggs you are buying are reared to RSPCA welfare standards.
WHERE SHOULD YOU KEEP EGGS?
- It is a popular belief that eggs need to be kept in the fridge. This isn’t necessary, but it will keep them fresher for longer because their quality deteriorates much faster at room temperature.
- The simplest way to store eggs is in the box you buy them in. Egg shells are porous and can absorb the odours of other foods so try to keep them away from anything strong-smelling, like fish.
- Make sure you use eggs by the ‘best before’ date shown on the egg or the box.
ARE THERE ANY SAFETY ISSUES WITH EGGS?
Salmonella is a bacterium that caused a large number of reported cases of food poisoning in Europe in the 1980s.
- Certain groups of people, such as young children, the elderly and pregnant women, may have weaker immune systems, which put them at higher risk of contracting salmonella. To be on the safe side, they should avoid
- eating foods that contain raw egg home
- made mayonnaise or chocolate mousse
© All recipe photgraphy David Loftus and Matt Russell.