If you believe in buying organic foods, an article by an expert last week may have come as a shock to you. Dr.Mercola is a celebrity in the medical field and on the media circuit. He has an excellent website and a huge following on Facebook and other social networks. I often adhere to his advice.
His article"Why you don't want to buy organic eggs at the grocery store" raises the question what happens after organic eggs have been collected. Some states require that they are cleaned by washing them in a chlorine bath. That isn't exactly what I as an organic customer and ex organic farmer's wife expected to happen to the eggs labeled organic, grocery store or not. In addition, they undergo "a mineral oil coating before they are nestled into their cartons," the article continues. And the eggs are still allowed to carry the organic label.
My research took me to:
Certification of Organic Eggs and Meat Birds
Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF)
Northeast Organic Farming Association. There it says:
"The following egg wash ingredients are allowed for use in organic egg production:
ô Sodium hypochlorite ô Potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide
ô Hydrogen peroxide ô Sodium carbonate
ô Peracetic acid (Peroxyacetic acid)
Other additives/ Egg coatings: Mineral oil is not listed on the National List Section 205.605 and therefore may not be used to coat eggs after washing. Organic vegetable oils would be allowed for this purpose.
No sh*t, Sherlock!
Why coat eggs in any kind of oil, I wondered? So that they look shiny? Not quite, there is a scientific explanation for it.
The surface of an egg shell is covered
with thousands of microscopic holes which makes it quite porous. A natural
coating referred to as the 'bloom' helps seal the holes, preventing bacteria
from entering. As the egg ages, the bloom is worn away, which allows moisture
to slowly escape and air to enter, forming the 'air cell'. Bacteria may also
enter, and contamination may result. When eggs are washed to remove germs that
may be on the surface the bloom is also removed, so a thin coating of oil is
applied to take the place of the bloom. This works in the same way as the
bloom, keeping the contents fresh for longer periods. The bloom also provides
eggs with a natural luster or shine. Mineral oil not only protects your eggs as
a sealant but it also restores the luster, the shine of the egg.
Food Grade Mineral Oil makes a great egg shell sealant. One method to preserve eggs is to warm the oil so it is as warm as your hands can work comfortably. To apply the oil, dip clean cloth in it and wipe the egg so that every bit of the shell has been coated. We carry a hand spray (see additional items) use of this hand spray makes coating eggs quickly and more efficiently. After coating the eggs place them (small side down) in egg cartons or egg trays and store in a cool place. The eggs should keep at least 6-8 months. This food grade mineral oil is an odorless, tasteless, crystal clear, food grade white mineral oil. It meets or exceeds requirements of US FDA regulation 21 CFR 172.878 and CFR178.3620(a) for direct and indirect food contact. It meets or exceeds standards of the US Pharmacopoeia (USP) and the National Formulary (NF). It meets standards for approval as H1 and 3H lubricants for use in food processing plants under the jurisdiction of the USDA. This product is also Kosher approved. It is the lightest viscosity of mineral oil we offer. Great for use in Cosmetics, Health and Beauty, Bee Mite Control, and Many More Applications.
The OCIA- Organic Crop Improvement Association under 3.16.b also prohibits certain oils: "Use of petroleum-based oil as a shell coating after washing is prohibited." But there is no mention of washing methods.
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