Egg buyer’s cheat sheet: Do you know what you’re purchasing?
Whether you’re a small diner, or a high-end multi-unit restaurant, chances are if you’re serving breakfast, you’re serving eggs. Over the past year, diners have flocked to purchase more food away-from home raising the Consumer Price Index for food by 2.5% (source). Furthermore, diners are becoming increasingly interested in what ingredients are being used in their food. As dietary restrictions, meat alternatives, and locally sourced products become king, staying informed on what the different labels mean for your products is important when purchasing products for your restaurant.
Meat alternatives like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are leading the charge on breakfast meats, but what do all the labels on your eggs mean? What is the difference between a cage free and free range? Should you be buying omega-3 enriched eggs? This buyer’s guide to egg nutrition provides the information that you need to identify what extras you should be buying and which ones aren’t worth your time and money.
Egg Nutrition labels
They are associated as being more nutritious and natural, but it’s actually the breed of hen that determines the color.
Worth the cost? No, there is no significant nutritional difference between white and brown eggs.
Fertile eggs have no additional nutritional value compared to non-fertile eggs, they actually have a shorter shelf life.
These eggs are laid by hens that are allowed to roam in a room or open area, this does not necessarily mean they have access to the outdoors.
Worth the cost? In a nutritional aspect cage free does not provide any additional benefits compared to traditional eggs. However personal feelings about the hens’ living conditions may favor you towards this type.
References that the eggs are produced by hens that are raised outdoors or have access to an outdoor area.
Worth the cost? Just like cage free there are no direct nutritional benefits that separate free range and traditional eggs.
Natural simply means there was nothing added to the egg such as flavorings, brines, or coloring.
Worth the cost? No, all eggs meet the criteria for being 100% natural or all-natural.
USDA label claims are highly regulated, although some certification programs differ Organic eggs are from uncaged hens that have been raised under the USDA’s National Organic Program. This includes free range and an organic diet of feed that has not been treated with conventional pesticides or fertilizers.
Worth the cost? Maybe – organic eggs have no nutritional benefit over eggs from conventionally raised hens, although it is unknown if pesticides and fertilizers can make their way into eggs. Organic eggs are guaranteed to be from cage-free hens with some access to outdoors and producers must maintain higher animal-welfare standards of organic certification defined by the USDA.
No added hormones
Hormones are not allowed to be given to chickens, if this statement is on your carton it must be followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prevent the use of hormones.”
Worth the cost? Since this is a requirement from the FDA you should not be paying extra for no added hormones eggs.
The USDA states that this claim can be used on eggs if the producer can provide sufficient documentation stating the hens were raised without antibiotics of any type.
Worth the cost? The American Egg board states that all eggs are antibiotic free and that any eggs laid by a sick hen are diverted from human consumption.
Eggs from hens that are fed soy-free diets.
Is it worth it? The USDA has stated there’s no evidence that any of soy’s allergen is carried over into eggs.
The hen’s diet is modified by adding ingredients to their feed resulting eggs with higher levels of nutrients.
Is it worth it? No, the amount of vitamins provided by these eggs won’t provide a significant nutrient boost, compared to what we get through a varied diet.
Ingredients such as flaxseed and fish oils are added to the hen’s diet increasing the omega-3 content from 30mg per egg up to 600mg per egg.
Is it worth it? Not really, while these eggs do contain extra omega-3s compared to traditional eggs. It is not significant enough compared to what is in fish or fish oil capsules to warrant the increased costs.
Our conclusion: Unless your operation has strong position on using organic products or how the hens are treated there is no major nutritional difference between standard eggs and specialty eggs.
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