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Checking cage-free eggs for blood spots


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While I understand that "cage free" and "free range" eggs are very loosely defined, I do feel that they are a step in the right direction. I have an ethical objection to animals being treated as machinery by being locked in cages solely for the purpose of producing eggs. The extra dollar for the "cage free" and "free range" eggs is a small price increase I am willing to take at home.

However... I keep kosher and eggs with blood spots are immediately thrown out. I understand that it is harder to candle eggs with thick brown shells, but I often have 50% waste due to blood spots. Today I had to go through 10 eggs to find 4 without blood spots. I am being nudged... slightly pushed into becoming a baking caterer for the local Jewish community. In a business sense, I cannot afford that kind of loss and waste. Should I compromise on the egg issue to reduce this waste and cost issue?

Your thoughts are most welcome.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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Are you sure you're seeing blood spots and not protein spots?  See here:  http://oukosher.org/index.php/common/artic...nd_blood_spots/

I will be honest, I have never seen this until now. I have taken classes on kashrut and this has never been brought up. Ditto with culinary school where they taught "Blood spots bad, throw out blood spots". Given that the school's low academic standards and was more interested in profits than education, I am not surprised by this.

I appreciate you posting this. The article would be more useful if it had pictures to show the difference between a protein spot and a blood spot. But it does get me in the right direction.

Thanks again,

Dan

Edited by DanM (log)

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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But even then, blood spots seem to be ok according to the linked article unless they come from fertilized eggs (fertilized eggs from commercial operations are excepted, since their incidence is low). There is a specific caution against 'natural' or organic eggs, as these may result in high levels of fertilization (the onus seems to be on the customer to check).

As far as my thoughts on the ethics of the situation goes, if a particular rule prevented me from using a more sustainable, humane product it would be the rule that gets thrown out, not the product!

If the article above is true, fertilized eggs from commercial operations are OK because their incidence is very low. To a person not familiar with dietary restrictions, this seems a little odd because the problem doesn't seem to be with the product itself! A rule which encourages both wanton waste (I say wanton because the exact same product is ignored in one case but not the other) and a less humane production system should be amended.

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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As someone who recently cracked an egg in a Jewish friend's house to see him basically scream "get it out," because of a spot - regardless of whether it was blood or protein - I believe you need to respect religious rules and beliefs. I've shared the article with that friend and he said he wasn't 100% sure about what he sees in eggs, so he wasn't going to take that risk. To me its no different than cooking your vegan's meal in a pan after just a quick wipe down to get butter out from the previous dish.

Since you posed this as an ethical question, let me pose the question to you - are you prepared to place a sign in front of your food that says, "This product uses eggs that may have spots that I believe to be in accordance with Kosher Law. Consume at your own discretion."? Full disclosure or don't do it as far as I'm concerned.

Switching gears. This is a big issue, so if you build your clientele up to include non-Kosher, or Jewish caters that don't hold Kosher food laws, then that could address your waste issue.

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I could be wrong, but I think for Dan the ethical issue is using eggs that aren't cage-free in his baking business, vs using cage-free eggs that may result in a higher amount of waste (and expense).

I think you (Dan) need to consult with whatever rabbinical kosher supervisory board you will be under when/if your catering business becomes kosher. Show them the eggs, or have them explain the difference between a blood spot and a protein spot (or have them show you the difference). Also discuss with them the issues raised on the website slkinsey linked to. There are a whole bunch of "ifs" that would allow you to continue using cage-free eggs as long as the supervisory board agrees (there was something about eggs from chickens that live in rooster-free environments, for example).

Also, are your cage-free eggs rated A or AA and from a supermarket? From http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/Journal/broyde-1.htm

Thus it is possible to conclude that Jewish law does not require that one check eggs for blood spots prior to their use if one purchases grade A or AA eggs from a supermarket in America, although there is a minhag to check eggs, and one who checks for such eggs is in the category of Hamachmir tavo alav bracha, (pious conduct for which one is blessed for being strict). No less than six different reasons can be provided to justify the practice of not checking eggs prior to using them:

1. The United States Department of Agriculture already requires that all eggs be checked for blood spots before they can be sold in a supermarket as grade A or AA eggs.25 There was never a custom to check twice for blood spots.

2. There are virtually never blood spots found in eggs sold in supermarkets in America that are a result of fertilization; thus no biblical violation is ever present even if there is a blood spot in the egg. The custom to check all eggs was limited to a society where not checking might lead to a Torah violation.

3. There never was a custom to check for blood spots when all eggs derive from hens raised alone, in which case some authorities rule that even the blood spot itself can be eaten.

4. The incidence of blood spots in Grade A or AA eggs sold in the supermarket is less than one in a thousand, and generally one does not have to check for very infrequent rabbinic prohibitions.26

5. Halacha never required that one check for blood spots; it was a custom, and the custom itself did not apply when it was difficult to check, such as at night. Nowadays, given the way we cook, checking is more difficult in a variety of settings.27

6. If there is a blood spot in the egg, one will generally see it even after the egg has been opened, and one can remove the blood spot then.

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The issue comes from a biblical law prohibiting the consumption of blood. This is a do or don't type situation with no leeway. For now, I will do my best to distinguish between the two. Once, or if, this goes full bore I will need official supervision from the local kashrut agency and I will require them to show me the difference.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I don't know anything much about keeping kosher, but I do know eggs. Brown eggs will have a higher percentage of blood/protein spots, because they are harder to candle. White eggs and brown eggs taste exactly the same, and are indistinguishable once you crack them into a bowl. So buying white cagefree eggs will probably solve your problem.

Commercial eggs from large producers are never fertile. Egg producers have no reason to keep roosters. No boys, no fertilization.

If you buy your eggs from me, or some other back yard chicken keeper, you might get fertile eggs.

If the egg is fertile, and if it is incubated 3 days, the yolk will look like a bloodshot eyeball--not at all appetizing, and very obvious. If it is fertilized and gathered immediately after laying, the yolk will have a white donut shape on it, a little smaller than the size of a pencil eraser.

sparrowgrass
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I could be wrong, but I think for Dan the ethical issue is using eggs that aren't cage-free in his baking business, vs using cage-free eggs that may result in a higher amount of waste (and expense). 

I think you (Dan) need to consult with whatever rabbinical kosher supervisory board you will be under when/if your catering business becomes kosher.  Show them the eggs, or have them explain the difference between a blood spot and a protein spot (or have them show you the difference).  Also discuss with them the issues raised on the website slkinsey linked to.  There are a whole bunch of "ifs" that would allow you to continue using cage-free eggs as long as the supervisory board agrees (there was something about eggs from chickens that live in rooster-free environments, for example). 

Also, are your cage-free eggs rated A or AA and from a supermarket?  From http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/Journal/broyde-1.htm

Thus it is possible to conclude that Jewish law does not require that one check eggs for blood spots prior to their use if one purchases grade A or AA eggs from a supermarket in America, although there is a minhag to check eggs, and one who checks for such eggs is in the category of Hamachmir tavo alav bracha, (pious conduct for which one is blessed for being strict). No less than six different reasons can be provided to justify the practice of not checking eggs prior to using them:

1. The United States Department of Agriculture already requires that all eggs be checked for blood spots before they can be sold in a supermarket as grade A or AA eggs.25 There was never a custom to check twice for blood spots.

2. There are virtually never blood spots found in eggs sold in supermarkets in America that are a result of fertilization; thus no biblical violation is ever present even if there is a blood spot in the egg. The custom to check all eggs was limited to a society where not checking might lead to a Torah violation.

3. There never was a custom to check for blood spots when all eggs derive from hens raised alone, in which case some authorities rule that even the blood spot itself can be eaten.

4. The incidence of blood spots in Grade A or AA eggs sold in the supermarket is less than one in a thousand, and generally one does not have to check for very infrequent rabbinic prohibitions.26

5. Halacha never required that one check for blood spots; it was a custom, and the custom itself did not apply when it was difficult to check, such as at night. Nowadays, given the way we cook, checking is more difficult in a variety of settings.27

6. If there is a blood spot in the egg, one will generally see it even after the egg has been opened, and one can remove the blood spot then.

Thank you for the link!! I will have to read it in detail when time allows. And yes, you are right about the ethical isssue of using non cage free eggs in a business to reduce waste and the associated increase in costs.

I don't know anything much about keeping kosher, but I do know eggs.  Brown eggs will have a higher percentage of blood/protein spots, because they are harder to candle.  White eggs and brown eggs taste exactly the same, and are indistinguishable once you crack them into a bowl.  So buying white cagefree eggs will probably solve your problem.

Thanks for the details on blood spots. I have never seen a cage free white egg. I guess it is one of those marketing things where people think that brown eggs equal natural.

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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The issue comes from a biblical law prohibiting the consumption of blood. This is a do or don't type situation with no leeway. For now, I will do my best to distinguish between the two. Once, or if, this goes full bore I will need official supervision from the local kashrut agency and I will require them to show me the difference.

Dan

Maybe I'm still misreading the material posted in this thread, but is this really true? All of the posted info so far implies that eating blood spots can be ok, and that there is plenty of leeway. The problem with blood spots seem to stem strictly from potential fertilization, so a source of cage-free eggs with no roosters present (I believe most larger scale operations already fit the bill) should be acceptable to the local agency and for your personal consumption as well.

Edited by Mallet (log)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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It's not considered OK to eat the blood by those who observe kashrut.

It's not uncommon for a kosher mashgiach to insist on cracking and checking all of the eggs himself in a kosher establishment or synagogue. Every egg is cracked into a small dish, checked individually and then added to the others.

This doesn't help with your brown, 'cage free' eggs, but I remember that last year at Passover when I had to crack and separate approximately 100 dozen eggs, I had to discard about 1 for every 100.

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this matter. I will be contacting a rabbi who is a local kashrut expert to see if he is willing to put on a practical class on this subject. Hopefully that will resolve any remaining issues.

Thanks again!

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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