The egg we eat

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Orlando Huaman*

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

Anthelme Brillat –Sevarin 1755-1826

Note. RE: Regulations and the egg debate by E.Tamasese. Good point Eddy. 

I have not read about the ban. To say it bluntly: people who are supposed to watch the safety of our food  (M.O.H) are simply not watching. Those who are supposed to analyze our food (S.R.O.S) don’t want to bother with it. 

People who are supposed to watch what they eat, they just they eat it. As I said it before: The safety of our food in Samoa is non-existing. Hear this: at the Savalalo bus depot, kids sell 3 boiled eggs per 2 tala. People buy them, eat them in 1 minute flat, yoke an all. i.e. they are eating 3 times the amount of cholesterol per day per person, then wash them down with a sugared drink.

No wonder the NCD is king in Samoa. 

 

DEFINITION. Egg, in general, is defined   as an oval or round object laid by a female bird, reptile, fish, or invertebrate and containing  an ovum which if fertilized can develop into a new organism.   

 

CUSTOMER  EXPECTATION.

This article provides useful   information and advice for consumers and store managers. 

I, as a consumer, just like anybody else expect my eggs to be wholesome, properly labeled and handled. Failure to maintain the high level of product quality expected by the consumer may lead to decreased product consumption. Case in point, my yearly consumption ranges from 150 to 170 eggs. That is why I am very mindful of the quality of eggs I buy. In fact in the lapse of three months I have personally found 4 rotten eggs in my egg cartons. 

Not only that 3 other eateries have had the same bad experience. And to add insult to injury some egg cartons come with assorted eggs of different sizes and colors. Not only that I have seen eggs in cartons with no markings whatsoever-indeed blank, and with Sell by Date of 37 days. To cap it all some retailers (big ones to boot) blatantly disregard –knowingly or not- the fact that eggs by law must be refrigerated. 

My concern was taken to an ACEO of the Ministry of Commerce, and I was advised to take my complain to the Minister of Health. I did just that. The Minister, understanding my concerns promised to take decisive action against the transgressors of the Fair Trading (Approved Eggs Standards) Regulations 2009. We the customers should expect no less. 

Now to the nature of my article. Eggs, just like your meat, milk and fish are PERISHABLE. This simply means that eggs properly stored (under refrigeration) and handled are considered safe for consumption for 4 to 5 weeks beyond the Sell by Date. 

Or the current 30 day industry standard. This conclusion was reached by food technologist Mike Musgrove and Deana Jones of the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA during a 10 week storage time. Dumping STORAGE eggs from abroad (a technical term meaning eggs that were held under refrigeration for an extended period of time, rather than being immediately sold.). No STORAGE eggs should be sold at retail outlets- yet it is done with impunity. Hello Quarantine and SROS.

 

EGGS VS BACTERIA

New – laid eggs usually contain no bacteria, and have a defensive mechanism against infection in the form of lysozyme; unfortunately, being eggs high quality foods for humans are also a good growth medium for bacteria. All foods (eggs are not exception) have the ability to carry microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) or toxins that at one time or another cause food illness- that causes: nausea, diarrhea, cramps and headache, that you, an unsuspected customer have valiantly faced it. The law says you suppose to report these incidences to the MOH (Food and Drug Act 1967) yet nobody does. If not let us review the MOH’s records. The “silent majority” silently put up with this lack of concern of the health authorities.

   Eggs that are moist and dirty rot more easily. Maybe that is the case in my complaint above. Moreover, who is monitoring compliance to the so called Standards of eggs? If so, how, when and what penalties applied. Disposition of undesirable shell eggs must be controlled by the MOH’s branch of health inspectors to prevent their entering consumer food channels.

 

QUALITY CRITERIA

Quality determines the acceptability of a product to potential customers. The quality of eggs and their stability during storage are largely determined by their physical structure and chemical composition. It is important therefore that those concerned with the handling of eggs are knowledgeable about this information in order to understand why eggs need to be treated in specific ways and to have rational basis for day-to-day marketing decisions. In order to avoid the presence of Salmonella enteriditis and other spoilage microorganism’s cleanliness of the egg shell is highly recommended. Therefore egg shell must be washed and sanitized to remove possible hazards. Discard eggs that are unclean, cracked, broken or leaking. And in handling those hands must be clean. While eggs may not be contaminated when you buy them, dirty hands, pets, other food and kitchen equipment will contaminate them. 

   A clean egg might show a coating of tasteless, odorless, harmless, natural mineral oil- a shining shell indicates oiling.

 

QUALITY MAINTENANCE

Maintaining fresh egg quality from producer to consumer is one of the major problems facing those engaged in marketing eggs. Proper attention to production, distribution and point-of-sale phase are of vital important on maintaining egg quality.

Standard of quality have been developed as a means of classifying individual eggs according to various groups of condition and characteristic that experience and research have shown to be wanted by consumers.

Grades differ from standards in that they provide tolerances for individual eggs within a lot to be of lower quality than the grade name indicates. Quality evaluation factors of shell eggs may be divided into two general groups: exterior shell quality and interior quality.

Properly refrigerated eggs stored in their carton in a home refrigerator will change from AA grade to A grade in about a week, and from grade A to B grade in about 5 weeks. However, a properly handled and refrigerated intact egg will retain its nutritional value as wholesomeness for a condiderable longer time.

Eggs kept at room temperature deteriorate as much in a day as they do in a week under refrigeration.

   Since there is no egg grading in Samoa; the following details must be observe in the eggs you buy from the stores in town-make sure you pick your eggs that are refrigerated, otherwise a rotten egg could spoil your breakfast. Upon opening an egg you should observe: the white albumen is thick, the yolk is round and well centered, the air cell is small and the shell must be clean, uncracked and with normal shape.

 

TIPS TO KEEP EGGS FRESH

Eggs should be stored between 10C to 15,5C ((50F to 60F) in containers with the small end down, place your eggs in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

• To avoid breakage and disruption of the interior quality eggs should be handled –like eggs- carefully.

• Eggs should never be stored next to vegetable which give strong odors.

• Eggs should be marketed twice per week to insure that fresh quality eggs are sold.

• To minimize moisture loss from eggs, they should be stored in an environment with a relative humidity between 70% to 80%.

 

COOKED EGGS

As we have said before, use raw shell eggs within 3 to 5 weeks provided they are sold under refrigeration. 

When fresh eggs are hard cooked the protective coating (containing 8,000 pores) is washed away. Therefore, cooked eggs should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking and used within a week. This imply means that the cooked eggs you buy from retail stores or village stores must be under refrigeration, since any cooked food must be refrigerated. Therefore, is not advisable to buy eggs from street vendors.

 

NUTRITIVE VALUE OF EGGS

Weight for weight an egg contains about the same amount of animal protein as pork and poultry meat, about three-quarts that of beef and two-thirds that of whole milk cheese.

Eggs are called nature’s functional food because of its content of so many vitamins and minerals. In fact they contain a range of nutrients including proteins essential vitamins A, D, E and B group. Minerals   rich in iodine, required to make thyroid hormones, iron, phosphorus, essential for health teeth and bones, Zinc. They are relatively low in saturated fats, making them a healthy fast food for all the family. They are low in calories only 78 kcal. Per medium eggs, so they are great if you are on a diet.

One large egg contain 6 g of protein, the yolk contain  5 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fatty acids 213 mg of cholesterol , a jumbo egg contains 266 mg of cholesterol in its yolk an extra large egg has 217 mg of cholesterol.

 

EGG YOLK AND CHOLESTEROL

The American Heart Association advises to limit cholesterol intake to 300 mg or less per day. This means just about two large eggs per day. Moreover, those with elevated   blood cholesterol level or Type 2 diabetes are urged to keep cholesterol intake at 200 mg or lower per day. Because the yolk of one large egg contains a day’s quota of cholesterol, limit yolk to 3 or 4 egg per week. Omit yolk of hard boiled eggs in salads.

If you like eggs, like I do, and want to cut your cholesterol intake eat all the egg you want but without the yolk or eat Egg Beater made mostly from egg white.

 

WHAT IS A GOOD/BAD EGG?

What is a bad egg? One that stinks with hydrogen sulphide or one that contains a partially formed chick.

What is a good egg? One that has a thick jelly-like white, an upstanding yolk, a firm membrane separating  white and yolk, a sheen over the whole content.

What is a poor egg? One with either watery or turbid white, a yolk that flattens out or bursts because of its thinned membrane, a dull appearance throughout the contents.

Poor eggs are practically as edible and nourishing as good eggs, merely less pleasant to look at and hence less appetizing.

 

WHY DO EGGS SPOIL?

Paul Francis Sharp, Cornell’s professor of dairy chemistry stated the following:

• they contain germs caught from the hen or absorbed through the shell pores;

• they lose water by evaporation through the shell, a condition which help break down the membrane between yellow and white;

• they are kept at a temperature too high, which causes chemical reactions, if not the formation of embryos;

• Most important and only newly discovered, the alkalinity of white and yolk has increased.

Alkalinity increases because carbon dioxide escapes through the shell from the white. Then the white absorbs carbon dioxide from the yolk, only to lose it again through  the shell, result of the loss is that the yolks get flabby, the white watery.

 

 FOOD FOR THOUGHT. In 2 of the biggest bakeries in town I have bought bread with ants all over it, and fungus in the buns at the  other one (24/06/11).So, keep your eyes open and your purse tight! Hello MOH, store managers!!!

 

*Orlando Huaman is a food technologist and free- lance writer.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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