Miniature plastic toy people tending to an egg

On the Sixth Day of Christmas – breaking a few eggs

No doubt we’ll all be breaking a few eggs and bringing out the baking tins this Christmas – but how do we ensure that our eggs are sourced sustainably?

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese-a-laying…

Here in the UK, we have a bit of a thing about eggs, no matter the time of year. Whether they’re poached, fried, scrambled or boiled, with a plate of toast soldiers, there are many ways to enjoy them. Brits collectively consume 13.1 billion of them each year.

It’s a nutritious foodstuff all of its own, but it’s important to see what goes into each egg. How healthy is it to include them in our diet, and are we producing them in a sustainable way.

A golden centre

The yolk, that golden centre at the heart of every egg we consume, is an incredible source of protein. When properly fertilised, the yolk serves as a food source to a chicken embryo, as it grows. Otherwise, it ends up on our plates, as part of a tasty meal, but it pays to be aware of the pros and cons of eating eggs before digging in.

Eggs are not only good sources of protein, but are also rich in vitamins A, B2, B12, D as well as folate and iodine. While the NHS claims there’s no recommended limit to how many you can consume in a given week, the way you prepare them can drastically change their impact on your health.

For example, if you’re imagining a nice fry-up over Christmas, it’s worth knowing that frying your egg can increase their fat content by as much as 50 per cent.

Seal of approval

As the eggs you handle in a supermarket are raw, adequate measures are taken to make sure they are hygienically produced. The British Lion Code of Practice means that 90 per cent of our eggs have a lion stamped on them, to signify they have been guaranteed as safe to consume. This British Lion food safety initiative was implemented in 1998, to minimise the risk of salmonella.

High food standards are one thing, but what about the place where the eggs came from? Fortunately, since 2012, the practice of housing hens in small, cramped cages has been banned, replaced by larger colony cages which ensure they can roam more freely.

Free range, cage-free hens are also increasingly common sources of eggs now. Buying eggs from an organic egg brand means the hens that produced your eggs were guaranteed a healthy diet, and that they roam freely for up to eight hours a day.

The way we treat our livestock has a material impact on us, whether we like it or not. If we mistreat animals reared for food, we risk damaging our own health. By raising standards across the board, including allowing hens to live healthier, happier lives, we ensure that the eggs they lay are more nutritious as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Doing so helps us live healthier happier lives of our own.

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