How Natural Eggs Are Washed

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The surprising listing of chemical compounds allowed in USDA natural egg washing and processing, which leaves the potential for poisonous residues given the porous nature of egg shells.

brands of organic washed eggs in healthfood store refrigerator

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

In different phrases, redirect as a lot of the meals price range as doable 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, entire meals like natural eggs. Even pastured and free-range varieties from small farms can fall sufferer to its regulatory risks.

You see, if you take a top quality product from a small farm and cross it via 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 standard eggs as they know concerning the poisonous chlorine washes which can be customary 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 wash the shell and coat it afterward can find yourself within the egg itself.

In response to Part 205.605 of USDA Poultry Pointers, the next chemical compounds are accredited 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 compounds (H2O2 and sodium carbonate) are secure, the others are most undoubtedly 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 compounds are in some way allowed in “natural” egg manufacturing is past me.

Why doesn’t the USDA solely permit secure substances reminiscent of hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate? Why the opposite poisonous trio as effectively?

Poisonous Vegetable Oil Coating after Washing

One other widespread 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 Pointers permits for this poisonous apply as effectively. (1)

What oils are used? Your guess is pretty much as good as mine, however it doesn’t must be listed as a result of it’s an “trade customary”. 🙄

My guess is that the most cost effective seed oils are used reminiscent of refined canola or sunflower oil.

Discover Secure, Unwashed Eggs

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

For my part, the most effective resolution 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 neatest 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 doable.

If you happen to suppose unwashed eggs are harmful, they aren’t!

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 could 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 techniques of the USDA in opposition to 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 preserving a number of hens your self is just not an choice, then you have to to do some investigation of the obtainable egg manufacturers in your space.

One of the best 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 is just not amongst them!

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

Then, contact every farm straight (by telephone is finest in my expertise), to acquire data on the chemical compounds 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 state of affairs, in case you shouldn’t have a “finest” 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 methodology 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 if you crack them.


(1) USDA Poultry Pointers

(2) Sodium hypochlorite

(3) Potassium hydroxide

(4) Peracetic acid

(5) Egg Scorecard Standards, Cornucopia Institute

(6) Finest Natural Egg Manufacturers