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How Organic Eggs are “Washed” (and best brands to buy)

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The US Department of Agriculture’s staggering list of chemicals allowed in organic egg washing leaves the potential for chemical residue, given the porosity of egg shells.

One of the goals of this blog over the past 15 years has been to encourage people to source their food locally.

In other words, direct food budgets as much as possible to local producers and artisans.

What this really means is the elimination of the industrialized food system, the “food broker”.

Almost everything unhealthy happens to food in the industrialized food system.

This includes nutritious whole foods such as organic eggs. Even breeds that are pastured and free-range on small farms can be exposed to regulatory hazards.

As you know, taking quality products from small farms and running them through the industrialized food system usually results in harmful practices and food adulteration.

When it comes out of the industrialized food system, it’s not the same product it was when it first entered.

For an easy-to-understand example, let’s look at how to wash organic eggs.

USDA Organic Egg Wash Standard

Many people avoid conventional eggs because they know about the standard method of toxic chlorine cleaning, but USDA organic brand egg (and carcass) cleaning is actually better. It does not mean.

Because egg shells are so porous, the chemicals used to clean the shells and subsequent coatings can get into the eggs themselves.

According to USDA Poultry Guidelines Section 205.605, the following chemicals are approved for use in organic egg wash solutions. (1)

  • sodium hypochlorite
  • potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide
  • Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
  • Sodium carbonate (laundry soda)
  • Peracetic acid (peroxyacetic acid)

Two of these chemicals (H2O2 and sodium carbonate) are safe, but the others are definitely not.

For example, sodium hypochlorite is corrosive and harmful to the environment. (2)

Potassium hydroxide is corrosive and irritating. (3)

Peracetic acid is flammable, corrosive, irritating and harmful to the environment. (Four)

I don’t understand how these chemicals are allowed in “organic” egg production.

Why would the USDA not allow only safe substances such as hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate, as well as the other toxic trio?

Toxic vegetable oil coating after washing

It is also common to coat organic eggs with vegetable oil after washing.

This will “seal” the porous egg shell “for your safety”.

Section 205.605 of the USDA Poultry Guidelines also permits this harmful practice. (1)

What kind of oil is used? Your guess is as accurate as mine, but it’s an “industry standard” so it doesn’t need to be stated. 🙄

My guess would be the cheapest oil possible… organic canola oil or refined sunflower oil anyone?

How to Find Safe Unwashed Eggs

The sad reality is that it is imperative that consumers educate themselves and take avoidant behavior when it comes to sourcing eggs. They can’t rely on the USDA or organic standards to protect them.

The best solution, in my opinion, is to keep the chickens yourself in your backyard. Our family has had small flocks for over 10 years and highly recommend them.

The next best thing is to get fresh, unwashed eggs from your neighborhood or farmers market. Avoid store-bought organic eggs as much as possible.

If you think unwashed eggs are dangerous, they really aren’t.

The “bloom” or natural coating on eggs is highly protective and allows eggs to be stored for days without refrigeration.

In Europe and other parts of the world, unwashed (and unrefrigerated) eggs can be found in stores and even on the streets.

Below is a picture I took myself of an unwashed egg sitting unrefrigerated in a Dutch health food store in 2018.

Unwashed eggs in cartons on a shelf in a health food store

The next photo below was taken in 2015 on the streets of Venice, Italy.

Fresh, unrefrigerated and unwashed eggs are left outdoors next to vegetables and fruits.

The USDA’s intimidation tactics against unwashed eggs are completely unwarranted.

Unwashed, unrefrigerated eggs at a street market in Venice

best organic egg brands

If you’re in a food desert where fresh, unwashed eggs aren’t available and you can’t raise a few chickens yourself, you should research the egg brands available in your area.

The best organic egg brand ranking system I’ve seen comes from the Cornucopia Institute. (5, 6)

This detailed egg scorecard examines an exhaustive list of criteria for dozens of organic egg brands, but unfortunately the egg cleaning process is not among them.

Therefore it is recommended to use this scorecard Narrow down the list to the best egg brands available in your area.

Then contact each farm directly (phone is best in my experience) to find out what chemicals are used to wash the eggs and what is used to coat the eggs before they are packed into cartons and shipped to the store. Get information about vegetable oils that

Worst case scenario, if you can’t get the “best” organic brand in your area that uses non-toxic hydrogen peroxide or sodium carbonate as an egg wash, at least make sure you wash your eggs thoroughly with lukewarm water. must be washed again. , wash with soapy water before use.

Given the porosity of egg shells, this isn’t a safe method, but at least it reduces the chances of chemicals or foul-smelling vegetable oil residue getting inside the egg when you crack it.


(1) USDA Poultry Guidelines

(2) sodium hypochlorite

(3) potassium hydroxide

(Four) peracetic acid

(Five) Egg Scorecard Criteria, Cornucopia Institute

(6) best organic egg brands

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