Types of eggs eggsplained
GRAIN fed, cage birds, free range, organic. . . the list is endless as you stand in the supermarket aisle wondering what type of eggs you should buy.
On the Coffs Coast and beyond, the ‘healthy egg’ industry has grown in recent years and now offers several alternatives to caged birds and the now infamous battery hens.
Director of the Organic Marketing Company, Tom Hackett, said consumers should always look for certified organic products and be conscious of labelling on egg cartons.
“There are many companies which claim to be organic and even farmers at local markets do it but unless they are certified organic, they haven’t been through the inspection process,” he said.
Mr Hackett said foods that are labelled ‘pesticide free’ are not organic but a way companies appeal to health-conscious consumers, without following accreditation practices.
“There are outlets operating in this area which claim to be ‘chemical free’ but saying ‘chemical free’ is misleading,” Mr Hackett said.
“They might not use pesticide in the week before picking and call this ‘chemical free’.”
Mr Hackett said certified organic eggs require testing for chemicals in soil as well as feed stocks.
Former Bonville free-range egg farmer Gerry Dyer said he does not think organic eggs are ‘viable’ and the cost of seeking even free-range accreditation can cause companies to ‘price themselves out of the market’.
He said cage eggs offer the largest production rates followed by barn-laid and then free range and he has seen companies get free range certification but due to higher retail cost and decreased production rates, they cannot meet market demands.
“Everyone has a different view of what free range is. People like to think that chickens roam free all day but if they did they wouldn’t eat enough protein to lay an egg,” he said.
“I didn’t get free range accreditation because I used to keep my birds inside until 10.30am, so they could eat their protein before starting on pasture.”
He said if you cannot afford organic or free-range eggs, look for ‘barn laid’ which offer better conditions for chickens than cage egg companies.
Free range eggs were found to have twice as much omega-3 fatty acids, three times more vitamin E, five time the amount of vitamin D and seven times more beta carotene than there cage counterparts.