Tuesday, June 28News That Matters

Are bloodstained eggs safe to eat?

The blood spots on the eggs are exactly that; small spots of red blood that you will see when you open a fresh egg. All eggs, fertilized or not, contain tiny blood vessels that anchor the yolk within the egg. In a fertilized and hatched egg, those blood vessels will deliver nutrients to a growing chick embryo.

Image credit Starmilling

There is a misconception that seeing a spot of blood on the yolk means that it is fertilized. This is not true. Both fertilized and unfertilized eggs can have blood spots.

As a heavy consumer of fresh eggs, I have encountered blood stains many times. Sometimes there may be multiple bloodstains, or the egg white may have some staining as well.

So why is this happening and can you still eat the egg? And if you really are the owner of the hen that laid the egg, is her health still fine? In this post, I briefly answer these questions and more.

Can I eat eggs with bloodstains on them?

You are understandably concerned about eating blood-stained eggs. However, according to agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Egg Safety Board, eggs with bloodstains are safe to eat as long as they are well cooked.

What does it mean for an egg to have blood spot on the yolk?

Consuming raw or undercooked eggs, whether they contain blood stains or not, increases the risk of salmonellosis, an infection with the Salmonella bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.

Also note that eggs with whites that are tinted pink, green, or red may contain spoilage bacteria and should be discarded.

The cause of blood in eggs

Blood in chicken eggs is usually not a cause for concern. The cause of a bloodstain is simply a ruptured blood vessel on the surface of the yolk as the egg forms inside the hen.

Each egg includes blood vessels that, if fertilized and then hatched, will eventually benefit the growing embryo. But a spot of blood on the yolk does not mean that the egg has been fertilized. Even non-fertile eggs have tiny blood vessels that secure the yolk firmly in position within the egg.

In chicken eggs, the actual cause of the blood spots can vary. Here are some common reasons:

Stress
The hen may have been scared while forming the egg.
Handling: The hen could have been roughly handled while the egg was being formed.

Genetics
The blood in chicken eggs can be genetic and little can be done about it.

Lighting
Lighting the chicken coop in winter or exposing chickens to excess light could also cause bloodstains.

Nutrition
Blood spots can be caused by too many or too few vitamins and minerals in the hens’ diet. Make sure to feed your hens a high-quality layer feed.

Age
Young hens that are just beginning to lay eggs and older hens that are about to lay eggs tend to lay more blood-stained eggs.

The most dangerous, but rare, causes of bloodstains can include fungi or toxins in food or a viral illness.

Commercial eggs

You have probably never seen blood stains on store-bought eggs. Why is that?

To reduce the risk of bloodstained eggs not being sold to customers, commercially sold eggs go through a process called candling. This technique detects defects within the egg by using a bright light. If defects are found in the egg, the egg is discarded.

Unfortunately, some eggs with blood and meat stains are not caught by the inspection process. For example, blood spots on brown eggs are more difficult to detect than on white eggs because of their darker colored shells.

What to do if you find a bloodstain

If you open an egg and find a bloodstain, there are several ways to handle the situation. If it hasn’t made you lose your appetite, just mix it in with the rest of the egg when you cook. If you are not comfortable consuming the bloodstain, take a knife and pull it out of the yolk before preparing your food.

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