The executive chef of dine by Peter Gordon at SkyCity answers your cuisine questions.

I received a booklet with some health supplements I purchased recently and they had a article on eggs and it said, "A conventional egg from a battery hen is a completely different food biochemically - they are health damaging, ageing and toxic". Any truth in this?

- Nick Mills

Ed's Note: Peter Gordon recently presented the inaugural New Zealand SPCA Blue Tick Good Egg Awards that recognise food businesses supporting animal welfare by sourcing cage-free eggs. Because educating customers requires both good information and good taste, Weekend Life asked Massey University's Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health Director of Education and Research Professor V. (Ravi) Ravindran to clarify the science:

Eggs are wholesome and packed with essential nutrients, irrespective of the type of housing used to rear the hens (cages vs free range). One egg has all essential vitamins and minerals in varying amounts, high-quality protein, unsaturated fats and antioxidants, all for 70 calories. Irrespective of the source, eggs contain no undesirable components which are health damaging. So there is no truth in the claims made in the article.

Eggs produced by free-range hens are widely perceived by the public to be nutritionally superior to eggs obtained from layers kept in traditional battery cages. However, a recent scientific study has called this popular perception into question by finding essentially no differences in the nutritional quality of eggs produced by hens from both management systems. This two-year study, conducted at the North Carolina State University in the US and published in Poultry Science (a scientific journal published by the American Poultry Science Association), found the nutrient composition of both type of eggs was similar. The only difference was in the total fat content which was higher in the free range eggs, possibly because of the insects eaten by the free range hens; but there were no differences between the eggs in the cholesterol content. The key conclusion from this research was that "an egg, no matter where it is produced, is a very nutritious product".


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