Egg forms an inseparable part of the human food and considered a quality nutritious feast having all the ingredients for growth, development and sustenance. It is regarded as to be a square meal and meets the requirements of all the age groups.
In the Valley too, the consumption of eggs is considered to be an essentiality and every household uses an egg for the purpose of which the hen’s egg is most trendy one. The utilization is upbeat and has touched 50 crore eggs per annum, a fraction of which comes from the backyard.
The quality and the nutritive value of the egg depend upon the quality of the feed available to the birds and the type of rearing. In deep litter system or in cage system, the hens are huddled together for accommodating more number of birds in a lesser space which keeps them under steady stress. The hassle makes the birds susceptible to various infections and in order to keep it under check, various kinds of antibiotics are being constantly fed to the birds through feed known as AGPs (Antibiotic Growth Promoters) and also in water, both as preventive and as restorative regime. Such antibiotics find their way into the poultry products, in this case, the egg, as residues; which have far reaching consequences as they result in development of resistance and ineffectiveness of the antibiotics in treatment of human infections.
Since the major chunk of eggs is being imported from outside Valley, it is loaded with shortcomings of immense ramifications and the one on the top being the freshness of the product. The quality of an egg depends upon the temperature at which it is stored after being laid and the circumstances under which it is transported. The places from where the major chunk of eggs comes are having a temperature of plus 440 C which is enough for turning any of the perishable items stale; the egg being on top of the list. Packaging of eggs is being undertaken at the farm and under the existing circumstances is transported to the regular godowns and stored till lifted for the intended destination. The supplies to the Valley are loaded in ordinary trucks having no climate control facilities and after traversing a distance of 800 to 1000 kilometers and taking not less than 4 to 5 days reach the stores of intended distributors. The road being tortuous and long and the vagaries of weather being extreme on the way, the originality of the fragile product is impossible to retain. These distributors further deal out these eggs to the traders in towns and cities which then subsequently sell it out to the retailers for ultimate sale to the consumers. The estimated time from the point of lay to the point of consumption is not less than a month in all the possibilities, the shelf life of an unrefrigerated egg is 7 to 10 days, though.
The Valley is hit by such a white tsunami all the year around and in the absence of not having any alternative, the people are compelled to consume such eggs. According to FDA, the stale eggs are a source of Salmonella which can cause food poisoning. Salmonella can build up over time, which means that the older your eggs are, the more Salmonella bacteria they might contain. As eggs age, they grow different kinds of bacteria called Pseudomonas which can make one sick to the stomach.
Of late, there has been news making rounds about fake eggs in the market and if available in the Country, the Valley would be no exception. To be on the safer side, the people are informed to be cautious and check for the following things while handling eggs:
1. The shell of the fake eggs is shinier than real one.
2. Fake eggs will be rougher than real ones.
3. Shake the egg before breaking it. If you hear some noise inside the shell (water overflowing), then it is a fake one.
4. Tap the egg lightly enough not to break it. The sound will be crispy if the egg is real.
5. If the egg is fake, the egg yolk and the white will mix together as soon you break it and pour on the pan as both are made of the same substance.
6. Real eggs have a raw smell while fake eggs are odorless.
7. Put the shell in fire. If the egg is fake, the shell will catch fire or start melting with a plastic-like odor coming out of it.
In the Valley, such limitations shall get surmounted by rearing the hens in orchards, grasslands and open spaces and allowing indoors only during night time and inclement weather and creating an entrepreneurial activity out of the equation and provide employment opportunities to thousands of youth. The hens in the open exhibit their natural behavior like fluttering of wings, scratching of floor, sun bathing, dust bathing, eating greens and scuffing for insects, shells, grit, etc. The brushing of feathers is another activity which keeps the birds involved in their natural demeanor. Highly nutritious eggs free of drug residues and stress factors can be harvested from such hens.
The bustle is a symbiotic one as the hens meet their nutritional requirements in the ranch and subsequently make the soil fertile through their droppings besides keeping the bugs and pests under check. Research has shown that the eggs so obtained contain 40 times more Vitamin A, 3 times more Vitamin E, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 7 times more beta carotene, 1/3 times less cholesterol and ¼ times less saturated fat.
The breed of birds (Rhode Island Red and Leghorn), which are prolific layers, are basically natives of America and the breeders in India are trying hard to get these birds acclimatized under the prevailing harsh climatic conditions. However such breeds would obviously find it easier to adapt to the similar surroundings which our Valley has in abundance.
The Valley having competitive advantage of possessing the flattering geo-climatic characteristics for such an endeavor and if promoted could be a game-changer in not only providing self-sufficiency but also as a harbinger for export and mitigating the employment tribulations as well.
The whole connotation makes the balance tilt towards the fresh eggs.
(The author is a practicing Veterinarian of AH Department. firstname.lastname@example.org )
published in Greater Kashmir http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/opinion/fresh-eggs-a-viable-solution-for-healthiness/251515.html