What Do The Labels Mean?

Back Porch Talkin' Blog Cage Free Chickens Eggs Farm Fresh Organic

According to the USDA to be labeled organic, an agricultural product must be free of pesticides, antibiotics, chemicals, or growth hormones.

One large, well known, egg producer claims their eggs are organic…here the term is used quite loosely.  Because they are required by law to wash their eggs before shipping them out, they use a chlorine/saline solution to clean the eggs, followed by a drying process, then the eggs are sprayed with an “protective coating” to help prevent salmonella poisoning and to preserve freshness so the eggs will last longer.
So how can their eggs be truly organic when they use chemicals on them? 
 It’s stated in black and white on their website, 
“In most operations, eggs are mechanically conveyed to a processing plant within hours of lay to ensure optimal freshness.  On remote farms, eggs are collected frequently during the day from farmers. Eggs are placed in a cooler under USDA supervision and held at a temperature between 40°F and 45°F before distribution in refrigerated vehicles. FDA regulations require eggs to be held under refrigeration from the time of shipping from the plant to the point of consumption. The processing of our eggs involves decontamination of the shell surface in a warm sanitizing solution, which effectively destroys any viral and bacterial contamination.” 
So the actual production of the egg by the hen could be considered “organic”, however once these “organic” eggs reach the processing plant; washed with chlorine, dried, and sprayed with a protective coating, well…to us they are no longer true organic eggs.

What they do not state on their website is this:  The FDA & USDA have no regulations or requirements to wash or refrigerate eggs that come from small egg farmers, like Back Porch Talkin’ Country Exchange, who house 3,000 or less hens for egg production.  Who came up with the cap at 3,000.  Who knows?

From the FDA Egg Production Regulation website:
(b) If you transport or hold shell eggs for shell egg processing or egg products facilities, you must comply with the refrigeration requirements in 118.4(e). This section applies only to eggs from farms with 3,000 or more laying hens.
 Producers with fewer than 3,000 laying hens and those that sell all of their eggs directly to consumers are exempt from the egg rule.

From the USDA website for Shell Eggs Farm-to-Table:

Should you wash eggs?
No. It's not necessary or recommended for consumers to wash eggs and may actually increase the risk of contamination because the wash water can be "sucked" into the egg through the pores in the shell. When the chicken lays the egg, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen. 
Government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs (mass production) be carefully washed and sanitized using only compounds meeting FDA regulations for processing foods.

The reason why large commercial egg producers of over 3,000 hens must wash and refrigerate eggs is simply there is a much higher risk of salmonella poisoning and cross contamination between the hens, their fecal matter, the housing and machinery, and possibly the humans that handle them.

We completely understand the laws and we follow them very closely with our hens producing truly organic eggs. That is the reason why our cartons are printed with the “Food safety regulations for handling eggs” once you purchased them from us.  For once they leave our farm, we have no control nor assume any responsibility on how your store or use your eggs.

Nature has provided the eggs with their own protective coating called the cuticle or “egg bloom”. The hen provides this protective coating right before she lays the eggs.  The egg is actually wet when it is laid.  As the egg shell dries, this natural coating seals the shell’s 17,000 pores, preventing any bacteria from getting inside the egg, reduces moisture loss from the egg, thus making the egg designed to last much longer.

Look at is this way:  A hen lays an egg each day for 12 days, it takes 21 days of incubation for the eggs to hatch, the first egg has been under the hen in a temperature of 105 degrees (the normal body temperature of a healthy hen) or  for 33 days, if the egg couldn’t handle the heat, it would rot.  And in this equation I did not factor in the weather temperature or the temperature of the chicken coop or the nesting box.
And I don’t know of too many family homes that keep their house temperature at 105 degrees.

Washing an egg removes the “bloom”, exposing all those tiny pores to infectious micro-bacteria floating around in the air.
Refrigerating a washed egg causes condensation to build up on the outside of the egg, exposing all those tiny pores even more to cross-contamination.
And as for refrigeration, the USDA states an egg must be kept at 45 degrees as stated on our cartons by law, once you purchased them.  
However what isn’t stated on those cartons is “these eggs have been washed in chlorine, dried, and sealed” that is why you must refrigerate the eggs.
Most folks think of refrigeration as being cold, say around 32 degrees, however 45 degrees is spring time to us.
The point I’m trying to make here is keeping your natural, unwashed eggs on your kitchen counter in a cool dry area is not going to harm you or the egg. But do not do this with store bought eggs…they will rot!

Back Porch Talkin’ Country Exchange “fresh-from-the-nest” eggs are just that.  We are truly organic egg producers in every sense of the word, “organic”.  When folks come to to purchase their eggs here on our farm, they are invited to go to the hen house and remove the eggs from under the hens themselves.
You simply cannot get any fresher or organic than that!

Commercial "Cage Free" Chickens
Simply put the chicken are not housed in cages, but are free to roam within the housing facility. 

True "Free-Range" Chickens  Commercial "Free Range" chickens

Chickens are allowed to roam out in the open.  On many small egg farms this means the chickens roam and forage naturally.  In mass production, this means, they have a fenced off lot for the chickens to scratch and exercise in.

One of beloved hens, Bloomers, in nest laying her egg for the day   Country-Organic, Fresh-from-the-nest Back Porch Talkin' Country Exchange Eggs Basket of Country-Organic  Fresh-from-the-nest Back Porch Talkin' Country Exchange Eggs  Fresh-from-the-nest Back Porch Talkin' Country Exchange Eggs ready to be sold in cartons Our Free-Range chickens having a snack with our cats.  A few of our "Cage-free" chickens naturally foraging for bugs & worms on fresh prepared raised begs for our home-grown vegetables

This is the term Uncle Bill and I at Back Porch Talkin’ Country Exchange, created to describe our egg production. Country-organic is true, organic, straight from-the-nest, free range, cage-free, non-refrigerated, non-washed, farm-fresh eggs. The way nature intended for us to enjoy.

Pictures from our farm (left to right):

  • One of our beloved hens, Bloomers, in nest, laying her egg for the day
  • Country-organic, freshly laid eggs in nest
  • Fresh-from-the-nest eggs gathered daily in basket
  • Farm-fresh eggs packaged in cartons ready for sale
  • Some of our cage-free chickens enjoy a snack of trout & salmon with our cats
  • A few of our free-range hens naturally foraging for bugs & worms on freshly prepared soil for our home-grown, raised bed, vegetable gardens (coming soon).

Our Hens Are Our Family:
We care about our beloved hens. They provide us with great tasting eggs day after day and in return we provide them with clean nests and a chicken-friendly living environment. Besides their natural foraging outside, (weather permitting), on green grass, seeds, gravel grit, worms, and bugs; they are feed a rich diet of kale, turnip, collard, dandelion, and mustard greens, with fresh fruits, black oil sunflower seeds, various grains, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and yes fish, and meat.  Chickens are omnivores, just like us.  They are excellent mousers!  Better than our cats.To help maintain a healthy immune system, strong bones, better egg production, respiratory system, and create an environment of calm, they are feed numerous herbs and spices.

Healthy, happy chickens = Great tasting, long lasting eggs!

We have conducted tests in our kitchen with farm-fresh eggs and with store bought eggs. We have left them out on the counter, fried, boiled, baked with them, and yes refrigerated the eggs.
Needless to say after just 4 days sitting out, the store bought eggs had an strong sulfur odor, condensation formed on the outside of the egg, and when cracked open, oh my…the egg white was watery and the yolk was quite pale.
On the other hand, our true, fresh-from-the-nest, organic eggs DID NOT have any of those characteristics. 
They still smelled fresh with healthy, thick whites and creamy yellow-orange bright yolks.
When it boils down to it, pardon the pun, the choice is completely up to you, the consumer, once eggs are purchased from us to refrigerate them or not.

Aunt Carolyn
Back Porch Talkin' Country Exchange
© April 11, 2017

Legal Notice & Disclaimer: 
Although we take every precaution to ensure our organic eggs are healthy and safe to eat, Back Porch Talkin’ Country Exchange will not assume any responsibility or be liable for any illness, sickness, or death that the consumer said occur from consuming eggs purchased from us. Simply put, once they leave the farm, we have no control on what you do with the eggs and we will not be held accountable for it.
Responsibility of egg consumption and/or any risks involved is that of the consumer's, not of Back Porch Talkin' Country Exchange, it's owners or affiliates.
Please read all "Safe Handling Instructions" printed on our cartons for properly storing and preparing eggs.

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