How Natural Eggs Are Washed

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The surprising listing of chemical substances allowed for USDA natural egg washing in the US, which leaves the potential for chemical residues given the porous nature of egg shells.

brands of organic washed eggs in healthfood store refrigerator

One of many targets of this weblog for the previous 15 years is to encourage individuals to take their meals sourcing domestically.

In different phrases, redirect as a lot of the meals funds as potential to native producers or artisans.

What this implies, in apply, is the elimination of the “meals intermediary” that’s the Industrialized Meals System.

The Industrialized Meals System is the place practically the entire unhealthy issues occur to your meals.

This contains nourishing, complete meals like natural eggs. Even pastured and free-range varieties from small farms can fall sufferer to its regulatory risks.

You see, whenever you take a high quality product from a small farm and cross it by the Industrialized Meals System, poisonous practices and meals adulteration often happen.

It’s not the identical product when it emerges from the Industrialized Meals System as when it first entered!

Let’s check out how natural eggs are washed as a simple instance.

USDA Natural Egg Wash Requirements

Whereas many individuals keep away from typical eggs as they know concerning the poisonous chlorine washes which might be commonplace apply, because it seems, egg (and carcass) washes for USDA natural manufacturers really aren’t significantly better!

Egg shells are extremely porous and any chemical used to scrub the shell and coat it afterward can find yourself within the egg itself.

Based on Part 205.605 of USDA Poultry Tips, the next chemical substances are accepted to be used as natural egg washes. (1)

  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide
  • Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
  • Sodium carbonate (washing soda)
  • Peracetic acid (Peroxyacetic acid)

Whereas two of those chemical substances (H2O2 and sodium carbonate) are protected, the others are most positively not!

For instance, sodium hypochlorite is corrosive and an environmental hazard. (2)

Potassium hydroxide is corrosive and an irritant. (3)

Peracetic acid is flammable and corrosive in addition to an irritant and environmental hazard. (4)

How these chemical substances are by some means allowed in “natural” egg manufacturing is past me.

Why doesn’t the USDA solely enable protected substances comparable to hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate? Why the opposite poisonous trio as effectively?

Poisonous Vegetable Oil Coating after Washing

One other frequent apply is for natural eggs to be coated with vegetable oil after washing.

This “seals” the porous egg shells “for security”.

Part 205.605 of USDA Poultry Tips permits for this poisonous apply as effectively. (1)

What oils are used? Your guess is nearly as good as mine, nevertheless it doesn’t have to be listed as a result of it’s an “trade commonplace”. 🙄

My guess can be the most affordable oils potential … natural canola or refined sunflower oil anybody?

Find out how to Discover Protected, Unwashed Eggs

The unhappy reality is that it’s crucial for customers to teach themselves and take evasive motion in terms of sourcing eggs. They can’t depend on the USDA or natural requirements to guard them.

For my part, the most effective answer is to maintain yard chickens your self. Our household has saved a small flock for over 10 years now, and I extremely advocate it!

The following smartest thing is to acquire recent, unwashed eggs from a neighbor or farmer’s market. Keep away from natural eggs from the shop as a lot as potential.

In case you assume unwashed eggs are harmful, they don’t seem to be!

The “bloom” or pure coating on an egg is extremely protecting, even permitting for the eggs to stay unrefrigerated for a lot of days.

In Europe and different components of the world, unwashed (and unrefrigerated) eggs may be discovered at shops and even out on the street!

The image under is a photograph I took myself of unwashed eggs sitting out unrefrigerated in a healthfood retailer within the Netherlands in 2018.

unwashed eggs in cartons on healthfood store shelf

The following image under is a photograph I took on the streets of Venice, Italy in 2015.

Utterly unrefrigerated, unwashed recent eggs out within the open air subsequent to greens and fruit!

The scare ways of the USDA towards unwashed eggs are fully unwarranted!

unwashed unrefrigerated eggs on Venice street market

Finest Natural Egg Manufacturers

If you end up in a meals desert the place recent, unwashed eggs are usually not obtainable and maintaining a number of hens your self isn’t an choice, then you have to to do some investigation of the obtainable egg manufacturers in your space.

The perfect natural egg model rating system I’ve seen is from the Cornucopia Institute. (5, 6)

Whereas this in-depth egg scorecard investigates an exhaustive listing of standards about dozens of natural egg manufacturers, sadly, the egg-washing course of isn’t amongst them!

Thus, I’d recommend utilizing this scorecard to winnow down the listing of egg manufacturers which might be greatest and obtainable in your space.

Then, contact every farm straight (by cellphone is greatest in my expertise), to acquire info on the chemical substances used to clean the eggs and the vegetable oil used to coat them earlier than they’re positioned in cartons and shipped to your retailer shelf.

In a worst-case situation, should you should not have a “greatest” natural model obtainable in your space that makes use of unhazardous hydrogen peroxide or sodium carbonate as an egg wash, then no less than you should definitely re-wash the eggs your self completely in heat, soapy water earlier than utilizing.

Whereas this isn’t a failsafe technique given the porous nature of egg shells, it could no less than scale back the prospect that chemical or rancid vegetable oil residues get into the eggs whenever you crack them.


(1) USDA Poultry Tips

(2) Sodium hypochlorite

(3) Potassium hydroxide

(4) Peracetic acid

(5) Egg Scorecard Standards, Cornucopia Institute

(6) Finest Natural Egg Manufacturers