Egg Protein Powder - Unscrambling the Truth
Chapter 3 - Questions Egg Consumers Should Ask
If I am just grabbing a bag or container of egg white protein powder off the store shelf and glancing at the label I am not thinking about this long and involved process. I am busy with the concerns of my life of course, but maybe one of those concerns needs to be those picky little details of the foods I choose to eat.
Question 1. Where do the eggs come from?
In other words, are these chickens factory farmed? Do they have miserable lives or are they humanely raised? What do the chickens eat? Are they fed antibiotics, growth stimulating drugs or other pharmaceutical agents?
This is a happy chicken
We may not spend a lot of time thinking about the lifestyle of a hen, but there are some very concerning details we should know about chicken farming. The ideal setting for a chicken is for it to have fresh food and water, plenty of access to the outdoors, shelter from the elements and safety, especially at night from predators. These needs were met very well in small farms with chickens free ranging about the farm during the days eating bugs and seeds with their food supplemented by fresh organic feed or table scraps. At night or in inclement weather the chickens went into their coop, which was closed up at night to protect them from predators.
These are chickens in battery-cages
That kind of chicken life can be allowed when you have somewhere under 100 chickens. Factory farms have thousands of chickens. It is not practical for them to allow the chickens to roam about. Unfortunately the practice of caging the chickens became common and still continues to this day. This is an inhumane and miserable condition that should not be allowed.
This is the reality of what is called a battery-cage. Think of a bird being placed in a small area that gives her about the size of an 8 X 11 sheet of paper. She is there from birth to death, feet resting on wire, sometimes stacked 4 or 5 cages high with no room to move about and sometimes packed in with two or three birds to a cage. Very horrible. Unless the egg products we use say the chickens are cage free, then this is the life of the hen.
These are cage free chickens
Cage free is better, but it is still not a very good life. In cage free, the chicken is not confined to the small battery cage. Instead they roam around a large roofed enclosure with thousands of other birds. The enclosure may or may not have natural light. These chickens never go outside. The conditions are crowded, noisy and dirty. They are however a million times better than the caged life.
These are free range chickens at the Glaum Egg Ranch
Free range is a designation given when the chickens are not only outside of a cage, but they can occasionally go outdoors. Outdoors may still be a fenced and roofed area, but at least there is free flow of air and natural light. There is no way to know how long they get access to these areas either unless we specifically ask the farm.
Organic designation means the chickens not only get free range, but they also get fed only organic feeds. The chickens may still be kept in fenced enclosures but these chickens are better treated. A great example of organic chicken farming is found at the Glaum Egg Ranch in California.
Question 2. Where are the eggs processed?
In the US or other countries? What kind of production policies and regulations do they have?
I can tell you if the product you are looking at does not label itself as being a product of the US, then it is very unlikely that it is from the US. What I described for egg processing is a processing production in the US. Even those products packaged in the US may have ingredients from other countries. One of the two big egg white protein powder manufacturers are in China. I do not know the regulations on processing eggs in China, but considering their track record with other food products I would be very wary.
Question 3. How is the finished product packaged?
How is it stored? Where is it shipping from? What things might be added to stabilize the product? What things are added to the product to effect its taste? Does it contain sugar or artificial sugars?
You can have a completely great egg protein powder, correctly and safely processed from the factory and then a bunch of stuff can be added that makes a good product into a bad product. Any time a flavoring is used we need to check and see how the product is sweetened. Unflavored egg white powder will have zero sugar and zero carbohydrates. Any carbohydrates in the finished product have been added. Be on the lookout for artificial sugars which may include aspartame and xylitol. Natural sugars may include cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or stevia. There may be things added to preserve the product or emulsify it for better mixing.
My opinion is that the best idea would be to choose unflavored egg white powder and put in any flavorings we would like ourselves. This will let us choose the most simple form of powder and allow us complete control over any other additives.
Considering all of this information and now that we are aware of what questions to ask, just what are the choices we have in egg white protein powders? I discuss some options in Chapter 4.
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