by Dr. Josh Axe edited by Dr. Brian Bartholomew
If you’ve been watching the news lately there’s no doubt you’ve heard about the massive egg recall. To date there are 1,300 cases of salmonella linked to tainted eggs from two farms in Iowa, with a third rumored to also be involved.
And while it may appear that two farms in Iowa out of the thousands of farms producing eggs nationwide don’t account for a large percentage of farms, the problem with tainted eggs and sickness is much bigger.
According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) poultry is the number one cause of United States. Eggs are the number one source for dangerous salmonella. And salmonella is the leading culprit for food poisoning related deaths in the U.S. which come in yearly around 500 deaths.in the
In the United States alone we spend an estimated $150 billion dollars a year on food borne illness resulting in 15,000 yearly hospitalizations. If you survive difficult salmonella you’ll have experienced at least one, but most likely all, of the following symptoms:
Symptoms of Salmonella
- Vomiting, Nausea, Diarrhea, Constipation, Headaches
- Body aches. Stomach Cramps, Fever,
Not a pretty picture and one that can leave you down and out for much longer than you may imagine. irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children have both been known to persist well after the acute case of salmonella has passed.can have many long lasting health implications. Chronic arthritic joint inflammation in adults and
Salmonella is a serious health risk. The United States own Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns, “Egg associated illness caused by salmonella is a serious public health problem.”
Maybe you think that to avoid salmonella you’ll be sure to cook your eggs? Well think again, according to the America Egg Board salmonella can easily survive in eggs that are cooked sunny side up, over easy, and even.
Salmonella can infect the ovaries of sick hens and the eggs can actually come with salmonella pre-packaged inside ripe for your consumption.
It’s time to think carefully about the eggs you choose to consume and feed to your family.
Free Range Eggs 98% Less Likely to Carry Salmonella
When it comes to salmonella and eggs, the living conditions of the hens play a huge part. The standard living conditions of hens in the United States that are raised for meat or eggs are in battery cages. According The Humane Society of the United States, 95% of hens in the U.S. live in these disease producing battery cages.
What is a Typical Battery Cage for Hens in the U.S.?
- 67 square inches of space per hen
- Vertical cages piled up to 8 levels high
- Manure pits often 4 to 8 feet deep
- Infestation of flies, maggots, and other disease carrying insects
- Infestation of rodents
In these cages the hens are unable to engage in their natural, instinctual behaviors such as nesting, dust bathing, perching and more. In fact the amount of hens jammed into these small spaces prohibits the abused birds from doing many of the following:
Hens in Battery Cages Cannot:
- Lie Down, Stand Up Fully, Stretch, Turn around, Flap Their Wings, Groom themselves
So often these cramped, unnatural living conditions cause such enormous amount of stress and strain on the birds that they resort to previously unheard of behaviors with the extreme being cannibalism.
The cannibalism and plucking each other – at times to death – is so common that it is industry standard practice to burn, cut, or laser off the beaks of these helpless hens. A painful, debilitating, and abusive process I can’t support. Once you know the facts, I doubt anyone will want to buy eggs from hens raised in these conditions again.
It’s Not Just Salmonella to Fear
While salmonella is a serious health threat, hens raised in this way that escape dangerous salmonella have a host of other health problems. When we buy and consume the eggs of these hens, the health problems are passed onto us.
Every year in the United States these battery caged hens are fed billions of pounds of antibiotics to counteract the contaminated and stressful living conditions (The Humane Society of the United States Report: Food Safety and Cage Egg Production.)
The eggs produced by these hens contain traces of antibiotics which in turn we consume. Could this be part of the problem with the new age of antibiotic resistant diseases?
In addition, many of these poor hens are fed what’s called ‘slaughterhouse waste.’ (And by the way, this is a legal practice in the United States despite therecommended guidelines to prevent outbreaks of deadly diseases such as .)
includes animals that have been slaughtered due to sickness, diseases, or being crippled. It also includes blood, fecal matter, and whatever else is in the ‘waste’ of the facility. Is this really what you want to eat or feed to your family?
Free Range Eggs vs. Battery Cage Eggs
When it comes to quality of life, there’s just no comparison between the life of free range hens and that of battery cage hens. Free range hens are free to wander, nest, perch, groom themselves, and generally live a happy life engaging in their natural behaviors the way they were intended to live.
This higher quality of life shows up in the eggs too. The nutritional value of free range eggs has been shown time and time again to be much higher than battery cage eggs.
According to a study by Mother Earth News in 2007 (conducted by an independent and accredited Portland, Oregon based lab) free range eggs are much healthier – and not just because you won’t get salmonella or unwanted antibiotics when you eat them. As compared with battery cage eggs, the eggs of free range hens contain the following:
Free Range Eggs Contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- ¼ less saturated fat
- 2/3 more Vitamin A
- 2 times more Omega-3
- 3 times more Vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
It’s clear that free range eggs are much better than battery cage eggs for numerous reasons – really there’s just no comparison.
It’s important to distinguish between the various egg labels that can often mislead the consumer.
Free Range, Organic, Cage Free – Know Your Egg Labels
Despite what you may think, just because the egg label says ‘cage free’ doesn’t mean it’s being treated humanely or raised in healthier living conditions.
According to the Humane Society these labels can be confusing and often deceiving for consumers. Today there are no guidelines for how long the hens are outside, what they are fed (with the exception of organic), and they are still allowed to have their beaks cut or burned off and forced molting is permitted.
The guidelines for these facilities are very limited at best. To clearly understand what each of the labels on Humane Society page explaining in detail each label.means visit the
Wageningen University (2009)
- Visit The Humane Society’s site to get a clear understanding of what egg carton labels mean.
- Go to a local farm that sells eggs. Ask the farmer about how the hens live, what they are fed, how long they stay outdoors, and if he or she feeds the hens antibiotics.
- Buy free range, organic eggs at your local farmer's market, farm, grocery store or health food store.
- Spread the word! Forward this email along to a friend of family member, you can make a difference!!