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  • You Ask, I Answer: Omega-3 Fortified Eggs

    What is the process exactly in adding Omega-3 to eggs?

    How is this done?

    I know the eggs are “fortified” but what does this mean?

    – Lori (last name unknown)
    Via the blog

    Before I get to your actual question, this is a good time to point out the difference between fortification and enrichment.

    When enriching a food or ingredient (for instance, white flour,) food manufacturers are adding back nutrients that were already present in that food or ingredient prior to processing.

    Fortification, meanwhile, entails the addition of one or more nutrients that are not inherently part of that food or ingredient.

    Similarly, adding higher quantities of a nutrient than what is naturally present in a food or ingredient also falls under the “fortification” umbrella.

    As far as Omega-3 fortified eggs, it is very simply done by adding food sources of Omega-3 to chicken feed — usually fish oils or flax.

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    7 Comments

    1. Kristin said on October 21st, 2008

      So maybe this is a stupid question then, but would you still consider these eggs vegetarian since they are fortified with animal products?

    2. Elizabeth said on October 21st, 2008

      Actually, fish oil is not generally used. Chickens are highly efficient at converting ALA –> DHA + EPA, so flax is usually incorporated into the chicken's feed, resulting in DHA in the egg.
      Hope this makes sense!
      I'm a dietetic intern, and have done a lot of research into omega-3s, and this seems to be the general consensus.

    3. Andy Bellatti said on October 21st, 2008

      Elizabeth,

      Thank you for pointing out the ALA – DHA conversion in chickens. I have made a slight edit.

      However, I have noticed a good number of manufacturers of Omega-3 fortified eggs stating they supplement their chickens’ feed with fish oil, so I am not sure why you say that practice is “not generally used.”

      One such manufacturers is in Australia.

      http://www.veggs.com.au/frame/ndxtech.htm

      Keep in mind, too, that in England, Omega-3 enhanced chicken is created by feeding fish oil to chickens:

      http://www.wattpoultry.com/PoultryInternational/News.aspx?id=26798

    4. Andy Bellatti said on October 21st, 2008

      Kristin,

      What a wonderful question!

      In the case of eggs fortified with fish oil, I suppose they are technically no longer vegetarian.

      For some, it is murky territory, since they are not eating the actual fish, but rather its oils.

      What many vegetarians don’t realize is that many foods and beverages, like fruit drinks, are now starting to include cochineal extract (AKA carmine)… an extract from crushed bugs (mostly beetles.)

      Unless you know what carmine is, there is no indication it is made from insects.

    5. Kristin said on October 22nd, 2008

      I guess it depends on how strict of a vegetarian one is. I eat a predominantly vegetarian diet, but I’m not strict about it at all so fish oil doesn’t really concern me. I don’t know about drinking beetle juice though. I guess it’s just another reason to avoid processed foods. I’m reading that it was recently discovered that some people have severe allergic reactions to this “beetle juice” and the FDA doesn’t even require it to be listed on the ingredients (as of 2006). I wonder if the ingredient has been there all along (since it has been used as early as Aztec times) and companies are starting to list it over concerns that it may be an allergen?

    6. Kristin said on October 22nd, 2008

      Sorry for the double post but I just thought of another question: I was trying to think of things that are artificially dyed red and salmon came to mind. Farmed salmon would be gray without the dye they are fed because they don’t eat their natural ocean diet of krill. And I know some other meats are dyed red too to make them look more appetizing to people. But what are the dyes made of?

    7. Carol said on May 16th, 2012

      Another good reason to avoid farmed salmon

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