brown and white eggs

Food Facts: What is the difference between white and brown eggs?

Eggs are packed with protein and provide numerous nutritional benefits at a relatively low cost. Whether you eat them scrambled, between a piece of sausage and a biscuit or mixed in your favorite cake or cookie, here are the answers to five questions you may have about eggs.

1. Is there a nutritional difference between white and brown eggs?

Actually, no. The difference is all about the chicken. White and brown eggs have no nutritional difference; however, they do have a noticeable price variance on store shelves. Brown eggs are more expensive than white eggs because of the difference in the hens that lay them. White eggs are laid by chickens with white feathers and white ear lobes, while brown eggs are laid by red-feathered chickens with red ear lobes. Chickens with red feathers are larger in body size and require more feed which is why brown eggs are more expensive on store shelves.

2. How do eggs affect my risk of heart disease?

The results of two recent studies indicate that eating eggs daily can actually lower your risk of heart disease. Even though studies in the past indicate that eating eggs can result in cholesterol issues, the study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that research participants failed to develop any increased risk of heart-clogging diseases.

3. How can you find the exact date a carton of eggs was packed?

It’s called a Julian date and you can find it on the outside of any egg carton purchased in a store. The three-digit number represents the day of the year the eggs were washed, graded and packed in the carton. For instance, January 1 is written as 001 and December 31 is written as 365.

4. Why are free-range eggs more expensive?

The cost of producing free-range eggs is higher, so the price you see in the store will be more expensive as well. Dr. Kenneth Anderson, Poultry Scientist with North Carolina State University Extension, says that labor costs are 10 to 20 times higher for free-range hens. The hens are typically larger in size and require more feed to develop and lay their eggs. Free-range hen production sees a higher mortality rate due to predators which is a financial loss for the producer.

5. How long does it take a chicken to lay an egg?

The entire formation of an egg takes between 24 and 26 hours. Of the day-long process, forming the eggshell takes 20 hours alone. Lisa Steele, writer of Fresh Eggs Daily, explains that a chicken’s diet contains a high percentage of calcium, which is used to help form the eggshell. Soon after the chicken is done laying an egg, its body will release a new yolk for the egg formation process to begin again. A good hen will lay between five and seven eggs each week during prime production in the spring and summer months.

Now we know chickens are busy little animals who lay 250-300 eggs per year. Altogether, there are around 280 million laying hens in the United States. The next time you crack open eggs to make your favorite breakfast dish or baked good, you’ll have a greater knowledge base about a staple in the kitchens of many homes around the world.