550 million eggs were recalled….does that tell you something…it should. That is only the top of the iceberg in the nasty egg business.
I have two city friends who would not try the eggs I raise at home. They felt that store bought eggs were safer because they are inspected. They have changed their mind since the egg recall. What they assumed was correct never has been the case. Thirty years ago we lived up from a chicken ranch. I wandered in there during a walk. I saw then the filth, crowded conditions, and the sick and dying chickens in some of the cages. This was when my kids were little, and they are in their 30’s now. This revelation of filth and dead chickens in cages, convinced me to raise my first chickens. I will not buy any eggs from a store unless I have too. If I do buy eggs they are organic or I find a local friend to buy them from.
Most of us who raise our own chickens, do not allow dead chickens to stay in our yard. We know if our chickens are sick and we take care of it. We don’t have them in crowded conditions and we feed them well. They are pretty happy. The eggs taste wonderful which can’t compare with store purchased eggs. Our home grown eggs contain more omegas than eggs produced in chicken houses. I handle my own eggs so I don’t have to wonder who is sick or who did not wash their hands before packing my eggs in a carton. I don’t have to wonder what kind of contaminated conveyor belt carried my eggs to the egg carton. My eggs are always fresh. I know my hens are not sick. I know my eggs are healthy.
Eggs raised on home farms are not cheaper, it is the quality of the eggs and meat that cause us to spend more on our eggs. My husband and I are building a huge chicken house. I cannot free range my chickens here on our new property.We have a bob cat and other predators waiting at the end of the drive way. So because of that we are spending two hundred dollars and another month to enclose a huge chicken coop and yard so they are safe and have lots of room to be happy. We were told by the owner to eat them. We value the ability to have healthy eggs enough to go to this trouble. It’s our values and peace of mind that is at stake.
Where the inspection process goes wrong in commercially produced eggs: The USDA workers who are at these egg farms every week are there only to monitor the egg grading area of the operation. They have nothing to do with the area where the chickens are kept and where the eggs are laid. These USDA inspectors are supposed to report unsanitary conditions if alerted or observed that would trigger a FDA inspection. The FDA is supposed to check the other areas of the business where the chickens are housed. Inspections on the egg packaging areas are infrequent. FDA inspectors do not inspect the areas where the hens lay because of rules preventing outsiders from walking between the different structures which could cause contamination. So the areas where the chickens are kept is not inspected unless there are complaints or an outbreak. This is a huge loop hole in the system. The owners know that area is not going to get inspected so that is where cost cutting measures are taken. There are not enough FDA inspectors to do the job and that is the facts.
Your Assumption that store bought eggs are safe: For those of you who assume that those clean white eggs bought from a commercial egg farm are healthy, here are some highlights from an article in today’s headlines. This article was written from interviews with workers from those farms where the problems occurred.
The following violations are ignored in chicken houses everyday unless there is an outbreak:
The workers see rodent feces, wild bird feces, chicken feces, and other contamination on the conveyor belts that carry the eggs to the packing part of the plant.
They complained of dead or sick chickens that end up on the conveyor belts. That is not even the dead and dying chickens in the cages where the eggs are laid. Ever seen a half dead chicken lying in a cage in the heat, I have. You won’t eat store purchased eggs after that.
Manure leaks from buildings and piles of manure are at times 40 feet high.
Eggs returned to the ranch unsold are re-packaged and resold to the markets. You are getting old eggs that should have been destroyed. That is why you will crack an egg at times, and it just breaks and runs in the pan. It will look wrinkled or not as shiny.
Why Violations go on everyday in chicken houses:
These same violations occur at many of the chicken houses on a weekly basis not just the ones who were finally caught. There are not enough officials to inspect the chicken house itself. The violations are so standard, that if they shut down every egg company with violations, consumers would have few eggs to buy. The price of eggs would sky rocket and consumers would have a fit. So they allow the violations or are given money under the table to turn their head. This has been a nasty problem for years. How can you raise 100,000 chickens in crowded cages and buildings without problems like this. Workers in these ranches get paid very little. Its a smelly, nasty job that is not pleasant. They are killing chickens, cleaning up manure from cages and the walkways. Chickens die from stress and other factors. They get caught in the cages and get sick. They die in the cages. It may be hours before they are removed. Do you think on a commercial chicken ranch they wash their hands properly or wash the equipment properly. Millions of eggs are processed each and every day. They have to cut sanitation clean up costs to make a profit. If they kept the chickens and the chicken houses up to proper sanitation standards, they would have to hire more workers and pay them higher wages. Your eggs would triple in cost. So you pay with salmonella out breaks to buy cheap eggs. You pay for what you get. This is fact. Go to U-tube and see the videos on this subject. Most people will not view them, because they will turn your stomach and make you sick. You don’t want to know how your eggs and chickens are raised because then you would not want to eat the eggs. That is why the clean up of the egg industry has not happened. It is easier to just ignore it. The egg recall proves how much these conditions have been ignored for years.
What is the answer? The answer is to raise your own chickens and eggs if you can. If not buy organic free range eggs or eggs from a farmers market or back yard farm. Organic egg ranches are held to higher standards than standard egg ranches. That does not mean they get the proper inspections either. Free range eggs are the healthiest eggs in some cases. Some chickens still have never have seen ground. They are housed in large rooms without cages. They may still be housed in very crowded conditions. Some of these ranches are only a level up from the ones who had the recall. Don’t complain when you have to pay a higher price for organic eggs. Your health and days of being sick from food poisoning depend on your choices. Cut out the chips, soda, junk food and you will find the money to buy healthier eggs.
Is there a way to tell if eggs are good? The reality is no. Any egg could carry salmonella. You cannot see salmonella. You cannot tell if your eggs are healthy in the box. Until inspections are allowed on a weekly basis into the areas where the chickens are raised and the eggs laid, you will be risking eating eggs that I wouldn’t even feed to my animals.
Won’t eggs be safe again after the recall is over? After the headlines get stale and other news takes its place, this whole upheaval will get quiet. Things will improve a little but it will take years until there is enough money to clean up the chicken and egg business. There are thousands of egg farms, old equipment, a bad economy and not enough inspectors. Do you really think eggs will get safer any time soon. If you do, you are not dealing with reality. Want cheap eggs, then know why they are cheap. I rest my case.
City Ordinances Need to be changed: How you can do that.
People everywhere are raising two or three chickens in the back yard. Three or four chickens are pretty inexpensive to raise and can supply the family with eggs. The movement to allow chickens to be raised in the back yard of city dwellers is gaining speed. Tell your city and county building zoning departments that the policies which do not allow chickens in the city need to be changed. Have your neighbors sign a petition to be submitted to the zoning department. You do not have to have a rooster to have eggs. A rooster is only needed if you want baby chickens. Two or three chickens will not make your yard smell like a chicken farm. If the zoning rules still prohibit the chickens and you have neighbors who will tolerate them, have them any way.
Call the egg ranch from where your eggs are purchased from. If they say they are free range, ask if the chickens are allowed to pasture. Ask them questions? Find out if there have been complaints against the egg ranch. If you are buying from an individual or small farmer, ask him questions on how his chickens are housed. If you know them, ask to view the area where the chickens are housed. There are some back yard raised chickens that have dirty housing as well. Do not assume your eggs are healthy unless you raise your own chickens. If an egg goes flat when you crack it, throw it away. If it looks wrinkled, don’t use it. Avoid raw eggs or sunny side up eggs under the present circumstances. Learn to like well cooked eggs. I wish I could say that eggs will be safer after this recall but they won’t for a long time.
Videos from egg ranches and hatcheries: Don’t eat before you view these. www.youtube.com/watch