Did you know eggs rank low in greenhouse gas emissions?

Did you know eggs rank low in greenhouse gas emissions?

Producing eggs is far less detrimental to the environment than many would think, which we need to emphasize.

On the occasion of the World Environment Day on June 5, it came to my attention through a press release from CAPIA – the Argentine Egg Producers Association – that eggs are considered as a low-impact food on greenhouse gas emissions per gram of protein together with a medium retail price, also per gram of protein. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has a scorecard that ranks foods as low, medium and high impact. And yes! Eggs rank low, together with several vegetable-origin foods and fish. Meanwhile, in the medium range, first chicken and then pork, come remarkably close, also at a medium retail price.

Honestly, I did not know of this scorecard, apparently published in 2016 by the WRI. The information is interesting and simple to understand. Argentina’s egg association refers of it, praising its egg producers for contributing to a sustainable food production system, in cages, by the way. As a matter of fact, last week I blogged about the Latin American position against cages at the OIE.

Taking the celebration of the World Environment Day is another “excuse” to show the general public what is their contribution to the society. Producing eggs has almost the same effect on the environment as producing nuts, soybeans or rice, and far much less than other food products. This is exactly what we need to do. Let’s shout out about the good things.

We need to show this, not only to the general public, but also to certain legislators, like those in the state of Nevada in the U.S., that praise the animal rights groups to impose a cage-free law in all of the state. “They recognize and support to egg industry moving in this direction” (sic), so they “will prevent large-scale producers of eggs and egg products from thinking they can escape those regulations by moving their operations to Nevada.” 

I wonder ─ where do they leave the impact on the environment? And welfare? And retail price for the consumer?

Let’s talk about the good things against fallacious arguments.

What do you think?


Eggs offer more than nutritional benefits to toddlers

Cooking eggs helps toddlers with developing their 5 senses.

The newly released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations for birth to 24 months old and specifically recommend eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant women and lactating moms.

The new guidelines confirm that eggs provide several key nutrients important for babies during the time in which their brains are rapidly developing. The guidelines emphasize the importance of choline, a nutrient in eggs. Just one large egg provides the daily choline needs for babies and toddlers, and two large eggs provide more than half of daily choline needs for pregnant moms. Additionally, early introduction of eggs may also assist in reducing the risk of developing an egg allergy.

But do they offer other benefits outside of those that are nutritional? The answer is yes.

Lately my son has been obsessed with the idea of cooking eggs, not because he wants to eat them all the time, but he loves the process. As a mom, I do too.

Of course, I supervise but when I allow him to crack eggs, dump them into a pan and then watch as I stir them it helps develop his five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). Penn State Extension would agree, according to its website, “Eating and preparing foods can be a great sensory experience for children and a fun learning opportunity.”

While cooking the eggs, my little guy makes a point of telling me the pan is empty, the shell is whole and that we still need to grease the pan. He can see that I will eventually cook them and that when they are done, I melt cheese on top.

He can hear the eggs crack against the bowl and enjoys imitating the sound of them sizzling in the pan, while he occasionally gets to help stir them in the bowl, I do most of that myself.

I think the touch aspect is probably self-explanatory, but just image the sweetest little boy voice saying, “Momma, feel the edges, I cracked it.”

I always laugh when he says, “Mmm, momma that smells good,” as the cheese melts.

The best part is always the end, when he eats the eggs, with an adult fork because he is clearly not a baby anymore, just ask him.

“By letting children learn about foods and help prepare foods, they may be more willing to try new foods,” Penn State Extension site said.

I think the industry should be really excited about not only the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but also, the idea of educating moms about the sensory benefits young children can gain from cooking eggs with their parents.


How will eating change after COVID-19?

How will eating change after COVID-19?

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be in sight in the United States. Multiple effective vaccines will be available to most Americans by the middle of 2021. As many as 90% may be vaccinated by the end of July 2021.

In this issue of WATT PoultryUSA, you’ll read about how the industry may fare in a post-pandemic world. One important change integrators need to consider is how consumer behaviors may permanently change after the pandemic.

More working from home

COVID-19 closed offices for extended periods. This proved many office jobs can be done remotely and forced consumers who previously dined out daily to eat at home or close to home.

Federal estimates show the number of people working from home will triple in the coming year as attitudes about remote work change. Moreover, some offices will move forward with a hybrid approach with workers splitting time between the office and their homes.

Chris DuBois, senior vice president at IRI leading the company’s protein practice, estimated more than 30 million meals daily will be eaten at home, or close to home, rather than at company cafeterias or urban eateries.

Different cooking techniques

DuBois also noted the average American had to become a more effective cook in 2020. Many consumers found new confidence in the kitchen and discovered they could make restaurant quality meals for much less at home.

During this period, they also tried new cuts of meat and cooking appliances. Air fryers and multicookers, like the Instant Pot, are now a fixture in many American homes. Additionally, shoppers branched out and tried different cuts of meat, DuBois said, as they became more confident chefs.

Going forward, poultry companies will need adjust their plans to serve a consumer that’s spending more time at home and willing to try new things in the kitchen. Product innovation will be key.


Solution to antimicrobial resistance may be very small

Solution to antimicrobial resistance may be very small

Studies using nanoparticles to attack antibiotic resistant bacteria show promise

Some years ago, it was forecast that, by 2050, annual deaths due to infections with antimicrobial resistant bacteria could reach 10 million.

Compare this figure to the number of lives lost so far in the COVID-19 pandemic – a little short of 3.3 million, according to some estimates – and you can see that, while antimicrobial resistance may have been pushed off the front pages, we really cannot forget about it.

At least 700,000 people already die each year as a result of drug-resistant infections, according to the World Health Organization, and more and more common diseases are becoming untreatable.

Many reading this will be aware of the poultry industry’s efforts to use antibiotics prudently or abandon their use altogether, but antibiotic resistance is an issue across sectors, despite much blame being attributed to agriculture.

In some parts of the world you can still easily buy antibiotics for human use out a suitcase in street markets, no prescription needed, no questions asked. Thankfully, however, there are those that do take the problem seriously and work to tackle resistance is ongoing in various fields, including options where prevention has failed.

Take, for example, and a joint initiative between a hospital infection control company and various veterinary organizations, that has been trialing a cancer medicine delivery system with reactive, short-lived antiseptic compounds to tackle the problem in poultry production.

The hospital infection company, Gama Healthcare, working with Scotland’s Rural College, the U.K. innovation central CIEL, and Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute, has identified nanoparticles with the correct release rate for animal use.

Cheap and safe

Laboratory trials have shown that the novel technology can be effective in treating antibiotic resistant bacteria and can be customized to the needs of the end-user. Importantly, it can produced cheapy and safely – cheaply enough to allow its use in both developed and developing countries – and could offer an effective and sustainable option for use in the poultry industry, its developers believe.

The technology should offer an effective and sustainable replacement of antibiotics in poultry, its developers believe, showing promise for the development of a new range of feed additives with a remarkable range of activity.

The study, part of a wider project to customize and trial patented technology for use in poultry, has been funded by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care’s antimicrobial resistance fund and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

As we all too sadly are learning, disease knows no boundaries, and neither does antimicrobial resistance. A cheap, safe and sustainable option for attacking resistant bacteria may be just what we need.


Poultry farming, the only livestock sector growing according to the EC

Poultry farming, the only livestock sector growing according to the EC

EU forecasts for agricultural markets up to 2030

Poultry farming, the only growing livestock sector

The report on forecasts of agricultural markets, incomes and the environment for 2020-2030, presented in January 2021 by the European Commission, covers the EU in its current composition (EU-27), after Brexit, which took place on 31 January 2020. Presents the medium-term outlook based on the consistent macroeconomic assumptions considered most plausible at the time of analysis. The forecasts on the price of oil and the population were updated on October 16, 2020 and the forecasts on the exchange rate and GDP – according to the forecasts of the European Commission – on November 5, 2020.

It is the first forecasting exercise for the agri-food sectors after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Commission indicates that, in general, the impact of the crisis on the food markets has remained limited thanks to the resistance of the food chain . It highlights the reinforcement of some previous trends, rather than a complete overhaul of the food system. For example, an increase in e-commerce food sales and increased demand for locally produced food and short supply chains.

The nutritional value, origin and health concerns are prominent among the drivers of consumer choice, along with the environment and climate change place. In this context, the sustainability aspects of EU agriculture and food production were reinforced in the political debates on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy and the achievement of the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Since negotiations to define the regulation of the CAP post-2020 are still to be concluded, the report does not take into account either the reform of the CAP or the specific objectives – and policy frameworks -. However, some market assumptions are made to reflect ongoing initiatives and publicized strategies in various sectors.

Growth in EU arable crop production is expected to be limited. Competition for land, along with the expansion of forest and pasture areas, will limit the land available for herbaceous crops. On the other hand, improved agricultural practices and continued research and development will support yield growth. Digitization will increasingly be at the center of productivity gains, better working conditions and high environmental standards.

In the animal sector, sustainability goals will likely be an integral part of production growth, with actions throughout the food chain. EU milk production could grow more slowly than in the past, with an increasing presence of unconventional production systems – for example, grass-based, non-GMO-fed, organic. However, the EU will remain the largest exporter of dairy products . With regard to meats, consumers may prefer more poultry meat, as it is perceived as healthier than pork and beef and easier to prepare.

En el sector lácteo y los cárnicosIn the dairy and meat sectors, the estimated balances for the coming years are not positive . In milk, and beef and procine, net reductions are expected in the herd, production and consumption. Poultry meat and eggs are the only ones that would grow from the livestock sectors.

The egg sector stands out among those of animal production with the best forecasts. Production, according to the Commission, would grow between 2020 and 2030 by + 7.3%; consumption by + 9% and the balance of foreign trade in eggs and egg products would improve by +38%


Transferring beneficial poultry genes within one generation

Transferring beneficial poultry genes within one generation

Transferring beneficial poultry genes within one generation

Development could aid productivity and welfare and safeguard poultry production against climate change.

While some things may seem to be never-ending, for others time flies. The latter would now appear to be the case in improving chicken genetics. Gene editing work carried out at the U.K.’s Roslin Institute has demonstrated an efficient way of introducing beneficial characteristics from one chicken breed to another within just a single generation.

The institute’s scientists removed reproductive stem cells from chicken embryos using gene editing technology and then, using the same technology to introduce gene edits into these cells from another breed.

The altered cells were then introduced into the embryos of chicks that were bred to be sterile. The embryos were then hatched and mated with one another.

The resulting offspring were of the donor breed, not that of the surrogates. They also had new traits that that had been created by gene editing.

Safeguarding future production

The development could allow the transfer of useful traits from and to any of the known 1,600 chicken breeds, potentially benefitting productivity and welfare, and helping to safeguard poultry production against changing environmental conditions.

For example, in one of the Roslin studies, curly feathers, which are thought to help Western African breeds cope with heat, were introduced into the UK Light Sussex breed.

Where indigenous breeds are concerned, it may be possible to share beneficial traits, leading to healthier and more productive birds and this could be of particular benefit to poultry production in low- and middle-income countries.

The Roslin team worked with the Center for Tropical Livestock Genetics and Cobb Europe, with funding coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Something good is happening to the poultry industry

Something good is happening to the poultry industry

The poultry industry showed a lean growth in 2020 but has adapted and the stage is being set for it to take off along with COVID-19 vaccination.

The poultry industry is alive and kicking and I think something has been done well to support it. There is so much information of all sorts these days, that it is hard to keep up, as well as to distinguish and decide which is good and how to correlate it. Notwithstanding, I think good things are happening. 

First of all, workers at processing plants, who initially were pointed out as a focus of COVID-19, are now experiencing lower infection rates as compared to other industries. According to the North American Meat Institute, in the U.S. the rate is 85% lower than the general population, whereas in Spain, the average week shows a 0.18% sick leave rate among workers in the food industry, which is half or less than other activities.

All of this is the result of actions taken within the industry to avoid contagion that stemmed in an almost uninterrupted supply chain and in keeping most jobs. But it is also the reflection of the growth in the sector.

I know many countries in Latin America show a negligible growth, with some poultry companies basically maintaining the same production rates, but in general, the sector has shown growth, from feed to production. For instance, Mexican feed production grew 1% in 2020, with 50% of it destined to poultry. In other parts of the world, Spanish animal production (together with agriculture, fisheries and other related areas) grew 7% in 2020.

In Rabobank’s March “Talking Points” report, the bank said that given all the sad part of the pandemic, “it is rather distasteful to talk about sectors having a “great year” but certainly many of the big packaged food companies were net beneficiaries of pandemic trends.” And in poultry, Rabobank says we are in the recuperating phase.

I am certain that the industry has done good things, ranging from health to biosecurity to finances to being resilient.

If we consider the fact that the U.S. is rapidly vaccinating the population, this will be an important trigger for the rest of the world. There is no doubt about it.

Latin American countries are going slower in terms of vaccination, but are moving along. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Brazil (yes, Brazil) has applied 30.8 million first-shot vaccines, Mexico (yes, Mexico) 12.2 million, Chile 12.2 million, Argentina 5.6 million, and Colombia 3.2 million, to mention the top 5. Let’s hope for the best.

What do you think?


Sale of foie gras to be banned in UK?

Sale of foie gras to be banned in UK?
No longer part of the European Union, the UK may soon prohibit the sale of foie gras

You cannot produce foie gras in the U.K., but you can buy it – although perhaps not for much longer.

Press speculation earlier this week that sale of the product may be outlawed prompted the country’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to issue a slightly ambiguous response, but the product does look likely to be disappearing from shop shelves and restaurant menus soon.

DEFRA has stated that now that the U.K. has left the European Union, the government is exploring further restrictions that could be introduced to address welfare concerns around foie gras production, adding that it has made clear that production from ducks or geese using force feeding raises serious welfare concerns.

Raised emotions

Foie gras tends to generate strong emotions in the U.K., with some strongly in favor and some strongly against. The U.K. banned its production through the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The tide does seem to be turning against the product in the U.K. Upmarket central London supermarket Fortnum & Mason announced last month that it would phase out the sale of it. The shop had been the target of a 10-year campaign to persuade it to stop stocking foie gras.

I happened to find myself in this said supermarket a few years ago at the very moment when a foie gras protest took place.

With placards aplenty and voices raised the protestors peacefully marched through the store before heading out into the street. A civilized protest if ever there was one!

What was disappointing, however, was that, on speaking to one of the protestors, her views not only on foie gras production but also on poultry production in general were so ill-informed that I truly wondered if she was at the right demonstration!

And there would appear to be ignorance on all sides. A chef from a Michelin-starred London restaurant arguing in favor of the product told the press that if the government was concerned about animal cruelty then it should ban “battery chicken.” Exactly what he meant by that I am not sure, but battery cages for laying hens have not been used in the European Union or the U.K. since January 1, 2012.

While a number of countries and companies have ceased foie gras production, there are others that have seen output increase. If sale in the product is banned in the U.K., will it simply lead to a black market with holiday makers smuggling it back in their suitcases or attempting to have it shipped in via online retail pages?


Break a leg? You just might if you don’t eat meat

Break a leg? You just might if you don’t eat meat
Close up of a crutches and a broken leg in a plaster cast of a woman sitting on a sofa and resting.

UK study shows vegans and vegetarians may be at a higher risk of bone fractures

While proponents of vegan and vegetarian diets like to promote them as healthier than diets that include meat, a study in the United Kingdom indicates that meat eaters generally have better bone health.

I recently learned about the study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol, which analyzed data from about 54,898 U.K. residents. The research showed that when compared to people who ate meat, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average had a 43% higher risk of bone fractures anywhere in the body.

The study also showed that vegetarians and pescetarians (people who eat fish but no other meat) had a higher risk of hip fractures when compared to those who eat other meats, although the risk of fractures was partly reduced once body mass index (BMI), dietary calcium and dietary protein intake were taken into account.

The study was published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Also noted in the research was that in addition to a higher risk of hip fractures in vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians than the meat eaters, vegans also had a higher risk of leg fractures and other main site fractures. The authors observed no significant differences in risks between diet groups for arm, wrist or ankle fractures once BMI was taken into account.

Of the 54,898 people included in the survey, 29,380 ate meat, 8,037 ate fish but not meat, 15,499 were vegetarians, and 1,982 were vegans when they were recruited. Their eating habits were assessed initially at recruitment, then again in 2010. Participants were followed continuously for 18 years on average, until 2016 for the occurrence of fractures. During the time of the study, 3,941 fractures occurred in total, including 566 arm, 889 wrist, 945 hip, 366 leg, 520 ankle and 467 fractures at other main sites, defined as the clavicle, ribs and vertebrae.

“This is the first comprehensive study on the risks of both total and site-specific fractures in people of different diet groups. We found that vegans had a higher risk of total fractures which resulted in close to 20 more cases per 1000 people over a 10-year period compared to people who ate meat. The biggest differences were for hip fractures, where the risk in vegans was 2.3 times higher than in people who ate meat, equivalent to 15 more cases per 1000 people over 10 years,” said Dr. Tammy Tong, nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, and the lead author of the study.

It was noted that in this particular study, more women were subjects than men, so additional studies could be needed to get a clear-cut picture of the risks from not eating meat. It also noted that if a similar study were conducted outside of Europe, the results might be different.

But my thought on the matter is this: Who wants a fractured bone? Why take a chance?


5 aspects that will impact poultry farming in the future

5 aspects that will impact poultry farming in the future

From innovations in precision production to the consumption of alternative proteins, these are topics that will alter the industry for the next five years

It would seem difficult, but even in a well-developed industry, such as poultry, it is still feasible to take steps to improve. To do this, it is necessary to understand the market trends in each region.

“There is a clear need to develop high-quality poultry products to meet the demand of specific markets, even under challenging conditions,” said Dr. Ruud Eits, Trouw Nutrition’s global poultry director, in an interview. “It is in these kinds of things that we must innovate.”

Precision Nutrition and Production

There are new ways of looking at nutrition that are innovative, such as split feeding  , in which instead of giving a single diet throughout the day to the layers or breeders, one diet is administered in the morning and a different one in the morning. afternoon or evening, which differ in energy, amino acids and phosphorus.

In the essence of precision nutrition is knowing the particular nutritional needs of birds in certain phases of production, as well as knowing very well the raw materials with which the feed is manufactured. These two aspects cross information. That is, the hen’s physiology is different in the morning, afternoon or evening, as well as its needs. “It’s about not targeting averages, but what is required in each phase,” Eits said.

Relatively small changes in nutrition pay themselves more than financially and performance-wise, plus there is less nitrogen removal from the environment, according to Eits.

This type of precision nutrition fits perfectly with the concept of precision production, which includes different sensors and production measurements. Digital monitoring allows us to obtain more data, which must be tracked. With these measurements we see how production performs in real time, although we are just in the early days of this technology.

Another element that fits into this concept is the use of models to see how birds perform, how they will respond to diets under different conditions. “We can use all the research information and summarize it into models for application in production,” Eits added. In this way, tailor-made solutions are developed for the producer. For this, the price of meat must be taken into account, as well as the cost of raw materials

NIR technology

NIR (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) technology has traditionally been used in the evaluation of raw materials. “We can use it for other things, for example, to evaluate the structure of balanced food and thus be able to positively influence the development of the gizzard,” he said. Today, this technology has found wider uses within poultry.

The NIR can also be used in the scanning of fertile eggs to see their development – especially in the early stages – and to know if there will be any problems later. “This way, you can intervene early instead of waiting until it’s too late.”

NIR technology still has untapped possibilities that we can use. For example, the use of mobile scanners – instead of fixed ones – that are already used for rapid analysis. Once the raw materials are scanned, the data is sent through an application where the result can be viewed.


Another important aspect is the control of mycotoxins. “We are progressing more and more in doing rapid testing for mycotoxins, so instead of going to a lab and spending more expensive testing, rapid testing has become more and more precise and accurate.” This is an area that is being worked on, as it is a substantial risk for the producer.

The obvious: alternative meats

Alternative meats are going to impact our industry, although no one knows how fast or how far. They are still a very small part of the market, but it is growing and the technology is improving. “We should primarily look at consumers who are well informed, young consumers who can adopt it faster than we think,” Eits said. We must not be like ostriches.

There are large companies that have made investments or that have partnered with others, such as fast food. In general, “it is a question of image, because if we go more to the facts, they still have a long way to go until it is a better option than animal protein. We are completely convinced that the animal protein sector is very efficient and healthier, as well as providing nutrients and flavor ”.

Something interesting is that the people who switch to this type of alternative meat are those who consume chicken, more than those who consume beef or pork. “This is a bit contradictory, since they are going against meat that is more efficient,” according to Eits.

Climate change

In poultry production, “we have a great story to tell, even more so than other animal proteins, because we have made tremendous improvements in efficiency.” If you want to be efficient and avoid the production of carbon dioxide, chicken meat has the best record.

“We don’t tell people our story well enough, even young people. We must speak of real events, not emotions, “he added.