MEXICO CITY — It is the Great Mexican Egg Crisis, and it will not be over easy, though there will be puns, especially in the Mexican press, which is cracking a lot of jokes.
But seriously: The public here is faced with an extreme shortage of eggs in a country that has the highest-per-capita egg consumption on the planet.
Highest being 22.4 kilograms (about 50 pounds) per person in 2011, or more than 400 eggs a year, depending on the size of the egg, according to Mexico’s National Poultry Industry.
There has been hoarding, price spikes and two-hour lines to buy eggs. Some retail outlets have been forced to limit how many cartons a day a customer can buy.
American hens have been called to the rescue.
An outbreak of AH7N3 avian flu virus is partly responsible. The deadly bird flu was detected in June on poultry farms in the Pacific coast state of Jalisco, and Mexican farmers and the government acted with lethal authority and slaughtered 11 million chickens to prevent its spread.
Within weeks of the outbreak, 90 additional million hens were vaccinated against the virus, with a second round of inoculation now underway.
Because of the mass culling, and stoked by price gouging and the soaring cost of chicken feed, the price of eggs has doubled this summer in Mexico, on average from less than 20 pesos to more than 40 pesos a kilo, or from $1.50 to $3. There’s about 16 or so eggs in a kilo.
This might not sound like much (unless you’re a family of five eating 2,000 eggs a year),
Hundreds of poultry farmers across Europe with millions of egg-laying hens are expected to flout a ban on conventional battery cages next year.
The new regulations are designed to eradicate the practice and dramatically enhance animal welfare.
According to European commission figures, 10 countries – including the UK – are set to be fully compliant with the new legislation by the time it comes into effect on 1 January 2012. Thus consumers can be sure that eggs from those member states have been produced in relatively high welfare conditions.
But eight countries – including Portugal, Belgium and Poland – are not predicted to make the grade, with more than 17 million hens expected to remain in old-fashioned battery cages by January.
And, while there were no new figures for five other member states including Italy, Greece and Hungary, campaigners say that those countries are unlikely to make the change in the next four months. As of last month, Italy alone had nearly 28 million hens still in so-called “non-enriched” cages.
The ban has been in the pipeline for 12 years, ever since the EU hens directive stated in 1999 that conventional non-enriched cages – in which birds do not have enough room to forage or stretch their wings – should be replaced by non-cage systems or “enriched” cages with more space, litter and perches.
Oahu has four egg farms, three of which sell directly to customers. Visit www.islandfresheggs.com for more information.
» KK Poultry Farm Egg Store (41-656 Kakaina St., Waimanalo, 259-7832): 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays; 7:30 a.m. to noon Sundays
» Maili Moa Farm Egg Shop (87-136 Kaukamana Road, Waianae, 696-3823): 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 8 a.m. to noon Sundays
» Petersons’ Upland Farm (141 Dole Road, 621-6619): 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays
» Mikilua Poultry Farm: Supplies local supermarket under the brands Hawaiian Maid, Ka Lei, Maili and Times
» Eggs keep about three to four weeks in the refrigerator.
» Tell a fresh egg from an older one by cracking it open. If the white, called the albumen, stands up high, it is fresh; if the albumen spreads, it is likely an older egg.
» There is no nutritional difference between white and brown eggs. Brown eggs simply cost more because brown hens are bigger birds and eat more food to produce the same amount of eggs.
» Daily egg consumption is not linked to the risk of heart attack in healthy adults, probably because blood cholesterol, rather than dietary cholesterol, has the biggest impact on heart health. Cholesterol in the diet has only a minor effect on blood cholesterol level.
» Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a vital nutrient used by all cells in the body, especially brain cells that require it for neurotransmitter formation. Choline also contributes to fetal brain development — adequate intake of choline reduces the risk of birth defects.
Source: Sharon Peterson Cheape and Joannie Dobbs