Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Much Ado About Eggs

“For which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?”
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

There really is a “love affair” that happens once you get hooked on free ranged, from Farm to Table chicken eggs.  However, there is a question bringing me stress from time to time.  The dilemma of the day ….. “To wash or not to wash??” ……. I’m so confused!!  This question goes around and around…Much Ado About Eggs!!

A Symphony in Eggs

A Symphony in Eggs

I was visiting a very seasoned rancher, and we got to talking about chicken eggs.  At one point, he had over 100 hens from which he sold dozens, and dozens of eggs.  I asked him if he sold the eggs straight from the bird, or if he washed them.  He told me that he washed them…”Always wash them,” he said.  He just used warm water, no stringent egg wash products.  His point was that you just don’t want to take a chance….that you don’t know who is handling the eggs after they leave you, and if they will use good hygiene practices.  GOOD POINT!  GREAT POINT!!
After talking with him, I was pretty sold on that idea…then I thought….. “I just don’t know.”  That bloom that is on the egg from the hen is a great protector.  It protects the developing chick inside the egg from harmful bacteria penetrating the shell….left undisturbed, it should do the same thing to eggs intended for the frying pan…right???  AND…it is actually ILLEGAL to sell washed eggs in the UK, and all of Europe!!  http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/10/25/why-american-eggs-would-be-illegal-in-a-british-supermarket-and-vice-versa/   I think that says A LOT!!
Well, the USDA  is also on the side of the UK for eggs in shell unless you are a USDA egg handler producing graded eggs sold in grocery stores (large egg producer with caged birds)….. Should you wash eggs?
No. It’s not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs and may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be “sucked” into the egg through the pores in the shell When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. Government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using only compounds meeting FDA regulations for processing foods.”   http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/egg-products-preparation/shell-eggs-from-farm-to-table/   Basically, if the water is too cold, you run the risk of bacteria permeating the shell…….
So, it seems to be one of those “Damned if you do….Damned if you don’t” kind of situations.  Since there are no rules I can find regulating the washing or not washing of eggs in Oregon ( I have looked far and wide for regulations on this), I think I will leave this up to my individual customers.  And yes, washed eggs are going to have to cost more since they are more labor intensive.  It’s not like I have a lot of customers………right now!   I guess a call for clarification to my county’s extension office is next on the list for the coming week.  I want to be in compliance with my county / state’s requirements.
Benedict's Bungalow 2015
How do I manage eggs that I personally use, or sell??  I keep my nesting boxes clean…very clean with new pine shavings every few days, or if there is any soiling or broken eggs on any given day.  The hens / rooster are outside the hen house all day…unless laying eggs.  Their roost, where 99% of the poop falls, is 5 feet or so away from the nesting boxes…so things stay pretty tidy.
Benedict's Bungalow 2015
That being said, if there are smudges, soiling, or dried products from a broken egg on any of my eggs, they go to the dogs….literally.  Depending on the weather….literally, rain or no rain, determines how many treats the dogs enjoy.
So, the eggs I eat, sell, and give away are visibly clean.  I, personally,  wash my eggs in warm water right before using….and tell others to do the same (with the exception of a couple of friends this past week going by the advice of the farmer …. which I still think is good advice…..)  According to the USDA….maybe we don’t even have to do that….not sure.   The learning process continues…..always!!!
What are your thoughts????
Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with us here on the farm!!  I hope your day is wonderful!!
Your friend from Oregon,

Comments on: "Much Ado About Eggs" (5)

  1. I do not know what happened to the spacing on this post…something quirky with Word Press today… hahaha.


  2. twinacreshomestead said:

    Great post, I had the same question. I personally do not wash my chicken eggs (we use them for personal use only) but I do wash my duck eggs (in water), we give our duck eggs away to friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is a never ending question, because it seems there are not a lot of regulations when you are just a small producer of non-caged birds. Are duck egg shells different…less permiable?


      • twinacreshomestead said:

        I believe they are the same as chicken eggs with the same type of bloom. I wash the duck eggs only because the ducks are so messy and even with cleaning their nest boxes daily there is still usually some mud or something on them. If they are clean I don’t wash them.

        Liked by 1 person

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