The unseen facets of egg toxicity in India
- Eggs are a staple food in India.
- They might contain high levels of dioxin- a toxic chemical.
- This comes from mother hens that are kept confined.
- Antibiotics fed to the reared hens get passed on to eggs and then humans.
Who knew there is an industry behind eggs—the hen lays it and the consumer eats it! The modest egg serves as a staple food around the world, offering the best of nutrition and high quality protein at a low cost.
Egg consumption in India
Egg production in India has been seeing a compounded annual growth rate of over eight percent and the wide consumption is shared equally by urban and rural populations. Even the poor can afford to eat eggs because it is easy to rear hens at home.
Rising economic prosperity and evolution of fast food chains offering egg products has lead to a growth in egg consumption in all parts of India. Not to mention the increasing awareness about humongous health benefits of including eggs in your diet.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) says that the industrial production of eggs is worth INR 950 billion in 2015.
Toxicity due to dioxins in Indian eggs
Dioxins are one of the most poisonous chemicals that finds its way to our stomachs from out dining tables. According to a 2005 report by a Delhi-based NGO, Toxic Link, chicken eggs in India carry 5.5 times higher levels of dioxin than the European Union’s safe dioxin limit for eggs.
Dioxin disrupts hormones and literally alters the genetic mechanism of the cells in human beings. This may cause a range of long-term side-effects ranging from cancer to reduced immunity to nervous system disorder, miscarriage and birth deformity.
Where does the toxicity come from?
The malpractice of CAFOs i.e. Confined Animal Feeding Operations is responsible for the toxicity found in eggs. This is the process where hens are reared in enclosed areas with little or no freedom to move. Additionally, they are fed hormones and antibiotics to speed up growth and reduce the risk for diseases caused often due to overcrowded inhabitation.
Hormones and antibiotics remain in the eggs as residue and are passed on to humans, who consume them. This, in addition to the above mentioned health issues may also cause antibiotic-resistance in us.
Are the eggs you eat toxic?
Unfortunately, there is no agency that certifies eggs and standardises them for freshness or health. As consumers, we have no option but to trust the seller. Some people believe that “desi” or “country” eggs are a healthier option. While these eggs come from hens that have not been confined, even small farmers frequently use antibiotics and hormones on them.
Your best bet is to refrigerate the eggs soon after bringing them home. Also buy eggs from a seller who keeps them in a fridge because they are a perishable commodity and storing them at room temperature only increases their chances of rotting.
Image Source: Getty
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Oct 27, 2017
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