Alternative eggs not necessarily better quality
Eggs from alternative production systems aren’t necessarily superior in quality to commercially produced eggs, researchers from the University of Lisbon said at the 2015 International Poultry Scientific Forum.1
The researchers obtained and tested 144 commercially available eggs from six different production systems: free-range organic with indigenous breed, free-range organic, free-range, cage-free and cage systems with and without omega-3 essential fatty acid supplementation.
The percentage of albumen in relation to the whole egg was higher (p < 0.05) in both free-range organic systems compared to other groups. Eggs from caged hens had a lower Haugh unit value — a measure of egg quality — compared to eggs from both free-range organic systems, but they had a higher protein content. Eggs from free-range organic hens had the lowest level of protein in albumen.
Eggs from hens supplemented with omega-3 had the least total saturated fatty acids and the most omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Eggs from caged hens that weren’t supplemented with omega-3 had the most monounsaturated fatty acids and the least polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The researchers found no differences in the cholesterol content of eggs from different systems.
Consumers worldwide are increasingly concerned about the quality of commercially available chicken eggs and often believe that eggs from alternative production systems have better nutritional properties, the researchers said.
However, choosing eggs solely on the basis of the production system may not be enough to guarantee superior quality due to factors unknown to consumers, such as age, diet and layer genotype, the investigators concluded.
1 Lordelo M, et al. nutritional and physical characteristics of specialty eggs. 2015 international Poultry Scientific Forum abstracts.