Monday, November 23, 2009

British Columbia Foodsafe program and eggs..

My husband and I attended Foodsafe courses on Saturday. These courses are mandatory for people working in the food industry and although some of the information is just good common sense, quite a bit of it was new to us. We both passed with flying colors which I hope is a good omen for the opening of our new restaurant, Magpie's diner.

The instructor spoke at length about salmonella poisoning transmitted by cross-contamination of raw and undercooked poultry and other feathered fowl and eggs. Having my own chickens I asked if salmonella is a problem with really fresh eggs...he vehemently replied YES!!! He went on to further say that chicken eggs, coming out of the chicken's keister, are filthy.

I didn't say anything because I felt that this was not the place to discuss eggs or chicken's keisters...the class is just a 7 hours with an exam at the end but....

Eggs do not get dirty if the chickens have lots of space and their nesting boxes are cleaned whenever they decide to poop in their boxes. We check our chickens in the morning and evening and often in the middle of the day. If there is any poop or any broken eggs in their nests...we clean them out, right away.

Now having said all that ... my chickens have laid an egg in poop, and I do have a life besides worrying if the chickens nesting boxes are always clean, but eggs do not come out of a chicken's keister dirty and crusty. So eggs don't usually have to be washed, in fact, you should never wash an egg, unless it has been laid in poop, and then it should be used first.

Another reason why eating locally is so important...crust free eggs.

But seriously .... I do not for one minute believe that an egg, eaten within a few days of it being laid by a happy chicken, in a clean coop with lots of space where chickens are allowed to be and do whatever it is that chickens like to be and do, is as full of salmonella as eggs that have been laid weeks ago, by stressed chickens, not allowed to behave like chickens, laying eggs in filthy nesting boxes, in coops that house thousands of chickens and never, ever, and I mean ever seeing the light of day.


David said...

We'll just keep this post away from the health inspector, then, shall we? :-)

DangAndBlast! said...

The woman I buy eggs from at the farmer's market -- her eggs are always a bit grimy, sometimes have little bits of grass stuck to them, sometimes just general dirt. Not massive, but enough that I certainly need to wash them before using them. Does this mean that she's misleading me about the conditions in which she keeps her hens? The pictures she has up show a couple dozen hanging around outside in a big property... she *says* she's not doing smash-them-all-in coops... But, if what you say is true, then the state of her eggs proves she's lying... and that there are health risks to using her eggs... so perhaps I should just go back to buying the "free-range, organic, cage free" eggs at the grocery store instead.

Margaret said...

Hi Dang and Blast,

I don’t know if it's possible for you to check out the farm which supplies the eggs but often that’s the best way to be secure. I wanted to be doubly sure that the information I posted is correct so I posed the question to a forum I belong to and these are the replies I received:

1. I agree with your view. Chicken eggs shouldn't be dirty. If you have a dirty one once in a while, it might be an accident, but continuing dirty eggs is a problem. Eggs, when just laid, have come from a very clean environment. If it's not clean, you'll have a sick bird. If the chickens have dirty nests, that clean egg will get dirty. And you're right, you should not wash eggs and if you have to, you'll remove the protective coating on it and should use that egg asap.

2. No you are absolutely correct Margaret! I wonder if the problem arises because some people allow their chooks to sleep in the nest boxes at night. Any chooks who start that should be quickly taught to perch on the perches at night. Then there is no need for the nest boxes to ever get poopy.

Chooks that are kept in muddy yards will often have wet dirty legs & feet, so that can sometimes make the eggs a bit dirty. On the whole though eggs should always be clean when laid. And they should never be washed as they have a natural protective bloom on the shell which minimises bacterial transfer. Washing eggs only serves to remove that natural bloom.

3. We had a temporary problem when we built our last chook house, in that we put the nesting box at the highest point, with their intended perch a little lower. Of course, being chooks, they wanted to be the king (queen) of the castle and didn't like their roost! We had to take action to stop them roosting in and around their nesting box since chooks do 50% of their poos while they are sleeping.

It's an easy mistake to make when you're a newbie, but easy rectified too.

4. I also agree. Our chooks very very rarely lay an egg that gets poo on it. They all lay in their nesting box ( except one) and we have lovely sawdust from the local mill in there. The one that lays in the broody house is sometimes a wee bit dusty! It doesn't matter how much sawdust we put in the nest bit she always flings it out. Most I ever need to do is a wee rub with a dish towel.

5. Same here,
My chooks all have clean eggs, apart from the occasional muddy footprint in wet weather. Not only that, but the last time I looked my hens all had clean botty's as well.

By the way…Chooks are what our friends in Australia and New Zealand call their chickens.