Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, I was able to get my hands on some of those emails. Of course, a lot of what I got were pages where almost all the text was blackened (you can see them in my video, Who says eggs aren`t healthy or safe?). But I found an insightful match. For example, an email shows an egg company trying to publish a brochure about healthy snacks for kids. But because of existing laws against false and misleading advertising, the USDA`s head of poultry research and advertising programs reminds the company that eggs or egg products cannot be called healthy or nutritious. „The words nutritious and healthy have certain connotations, and because eggs have the amount of cholesterol they have, plus the fact that they are not low in fat, [the words healthy and nutritious] are problematic.“ That`s what the U.S. Department of Agriculture says! However, keep in mind that regulation can have some problems. I don`t know if avocados can also be advertised as healthy because of their fat content. For a food to be labeled „healthy“ according to FDA rules, it must contain little saturated fat (eggs do not meet these criteria) and contain less than 90 mg of cholesterol per serving (even half an egg does not pass this test). For the same reason that we can`t advertise ice cream for strong bones, we can`t say that eggs are healthy because they cross the cholesterol threshold. While the UEP doesn`t want to denigrate the KIND snack brand [which was instrumental in launching the FDA`s health tests], it added, „We find it ironic that `healthy` claims are now being made for snack bars, but not for a nutrient-rich food like eggs.“ For example, the egg industry wanted to run an advertisement calling eggs a nutritional powerhouse that helps with weight loss. The USDA had to remind the industry that they cannot present eggs as a dietary food because of their fat and cholesterol content. In fact, eggs contain almost twice as many calories as anything called „low-calorie.“ In fact, the American Egg Board also can`t suggest that eggs are bad for you, as Hampton Creek discovered: you can`t even say eggs are „relatively“ low in calories.
I can`t say eggs are low in saturated fat – they aren`t. I can`t say they`re relatively low in fat, they`re not. I can`t even call them a rich source of protein, because according to the USDA, they aren`t. Since we can`t say eggs are a good start to the day, the USDA suggests a „satisfying start.“ Egg companies can`t call eggs a healthy ingredient, but they can call eggs a „recognizable“ ingredient. Nor can I honestly say that eggs are good for us. According to the USDA, the egg industry should „avoid words like `healthy` or `nutritious.`“ Free-range, humane egg labels are misleading and complex terms because there is little or no legal precedent that can help determine what is ethical and compassionate and what is not. 20,000 chickens in a barn are still considered free-range and chickens that never see the sun in their lives and arrive at slaughterhouses with broken bones can still be defined as „cruelty-free“ eggs. In fact, eggs marked as cageless can still come from caged chickens.
Cageless eggs are largely a myth. While many nutritionists like Glassman continue to point out the abundance of health benefits eggs can provide, she says most Americans probably don`t realize how good they are for you. „Eggs have been poorly marketed in the past. Many people still think that eggs can raise their cholesterol levels, but this is actually not true. Dietary cholesterol actually improves your cholesterol profile. That`s the main reason eggs need this healthy label,“ says Glassman. Food labelling regulations currently state that „healthy“ can only be used as an indication of nutrient content for foods that are also low in fat, thus excluding from this claim high-fat foods such as nuts and avocados – which are widely accepted as healthy foods. You heard that right.
Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is more than 20 years behind in defining guidelines on what „healthy“ means for nutrition claims, many processed foods can use them. Current guidelines indicate that „healthy“ foods are low in fat and provide useful nutrients. These nutrients include potassium, calcium, iron and vitamin D. However, the USDA official helpfully suggests, „I believe you can say something that is just as strong, if not stronger, that is `naturally nutrient-rich.` Why can we say that eggs are rich in nutrients but not nutritious? Because there is no legal definition of nutrient rich. We can say that Twinkies and Coca Cola are rich in nutrients, but legally we can`t say that something is nutritious unless it actually is. nutritious. The egg industry had a rather complex relationship with the public, arguably a high and a low than any other food industry. They went from a staple in every person`s breakfast to public enemy number one. This is especially true after other unbiased information was published that eggs are not the healthy foods and were never the ones they were advertised as.
Chickens that produce Certified Humane Pasture Raised eggs have at least 108 square feet to roam and are outdoors year-round. Farmers should also rotate the fields they use, and chickens can go indoors in the evening to shelter from predators or bad weather. Instead of being sure, they can call eggs „fresh,“ the USDA`s marketing department helpfully suggests. But they can`t call eggs safe, and they can`t say eggs are „safe to eat.“ You can`t mention security at all. The egg board`s response to this egg-borne outbreak is that salmonella is a natural bacterium. An internal note from the egg industry did not think this should necessarily be the central message, fearing that „it may be counterproductive in suggesting that there is no avoidance of salmonella in eggs other than avoiding eggs altogether.“ Through their petition, Glassman and Laflamme hope the FDA can speed up new regulations for labeling eggs and other nutritious foods. „Foods that have the `healthy` label are mostly low-fat pastries and fat-free puddings, which are nutrient-free and offer no health benefits,“ says Glassman. Still, eggs are one of the best bioavailable sources of low-cost protein and metabolism-boosting choline, and the FDA doesn`t believe they`re worthy of the healthy label. Remember 2016, when the FDA asked KIND to remove the word healthy from its food packaging because some of their bars didn`t meet their standards.
That`s why Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Nutritious Life, partnered with Jesse Laflamme, the farmer behind Pete and Gerry`s Organic Eggs, who filed a petition with the FDA last month to allow eggs to bear the name in good health. „Reading the eggs on the label is really confusing.“ Certified Humane Free Range` and `Certified Pasture Raised` are the only FDA-approved labels that can go on eggs in addition to the organic USDA,“ says Glassman. The risk of food poisoning is the reason why the American Egg Board can`t even mention anything other than hard-boiled, dry eggs. No soft boiling, not too easy, no sunny side – because of the risk of salmonella. The American Egg Board`s own research has shown that the Sunny Side-Up cooking method should be considered „dangerous.“ It is illegal to advertise that eggs contain a nutritious wallop or that they have a high nutrient content. Eggs have so much cholesterol that we can`t even say they „contribute nutritionally.“ I can`t say eggs are „healthy,“ certainly not say they`re „healthy.“ I can`t even say that eggs provide „healthy components.“ „Pending regulatory action, the FDA should amend the enforcement discretion outlined in its guidance document to allow foods to carry a `healthy` claim regardless of total fat or cholesterol, as long as less than half of their fat content is saturated and they are a good source of one or more of the beneficial nutrients listed by the FDA.“ The United States.