A Texas-based company has developed a new egg washer which does away with bad practices and could save the life of 90 million unborn chickens every year.
Eggs are big business. Chickens are big business. As such, we tend to raise a lot of them. Truth be told, the number of chickens in the world far outweigh the number of humans. In the United States alone, 9 billion chickens are raised every year in order to accommodate our taste for KFC, omelets and french toast.
Unfortunately, chicken eggs have a natural failure rate of about 1%, mostly due to bacterial infections in the egg. 1% becomes an awfully big number, 90 million in fact, when you’re raising that many of them. To make things worse, our best egg cleaning machines leave the eggs more open to infection than they otherwise would be. That’s why Texas A&M stepped in to build us a better egg cleaner, that could save a lot of young chicks from an early demise.
When an egg leaves a hen it has a protective waxy coating around it that clog up the pores in the egg and help protect the embryo from infection for the first week (the most critical time for infection). Thereafter, the coating wears off to facilitate gas exchange which lets the growing embryo breathe. Conventional egg cleaners however, usually bathe the egg in warm detergent which removes the coating and leaves the egg fully exposed. Considering the filthy state of most hen houses, even getting the egg wet is enough to significantly raise the risk of infection.
The new high-tech egg washer
The new egg washer, developed a team led by Dr. Craig Coufal, a poultry specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, completely does away with detergent. Coufal’s high-tech solution utilizes Hydrogen Peroxide and UV light to clean the eggs. They are lightly misted with the Hydrogen Peroxide, which, when exposed to UV light, create hydroxyl ions. These ions kill germs.
The eggs come out of the cleaner with the waxy coating intact and no change to the taste or texture of the yolk. In addition, the eggs are seeing a low rate of infection. While still a prototype, the new egg cleaner will soon be installed at a hatchery in the coming months.