REAL Eggs Make a Real Difference

There is no single one-to-one substitution that can replace the multiple functional and synergistic properties supplied by REAL egg ingredients. The flavor, functionality and appeal of REAL eggs delivers the gold standard formulators expect and consumers demand. It is a gold standard product—measured by taste, texture and appearance—that prompts repeat purchases and results in market success. Formulators can achieve this with REAL egg ingredients.

Myths about food and nutrition abound. What might be called the “mis-information superhighway” is filled with contradictions. Often rumors spread faster than factual, scientifically backed information, which makes it difficult for consumers and professionals alike to discern the truth.

ProteinProponents claim superiority of egg-substitute ingredients compared to egg ingredients for formulation. While these alternatives function on a basic level, the question is, will they produce the gold standard products consumers expect? Egg ingredients provide the function, flavor, nutrition and overall performance expected in multiple applications, including baked goods, pasta, desserts, hand-held sandwiches, prepared meals and other product categories.

One Basic Ingredient, Essential Benefits

Egg ingredients supply more than twenty functional properties to foods, including aeration, binding, coagulation, emulsification, foaming and whipping, to name just a few. They perform these functions well under rigorous processing conditions, such as high shear and high temperature, proving their reliability through decades of modern food manufacturing.

Alternative ingredients have limited functionality, and can contribute to off flavors in the final products. In order to achieve full functionality and an appearance, taste and texture similar to the original formulation with eggs, an egg substitute may also require the addition of emulsifiers, oils, gums, polysaccharides, acids, enzymes, colorants or flavoring agents. This can create a lengthy label statement and result in a product that falls short of expectations for taste, texture or appearance.

Taste Ranks Number One

ProteinTaste still trumps any other measurement for product success. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation 2015 Food & Health survey reported taste as the top factor influencing consumer’s food and beverage purchases, with taste selected as a primary purchase factor by 83 percent of those surveyed. Many manufacturers of ingredients positioned as egg replacers suggest incorporating their ingredients into products with a strong flavor, to mask off notes. Real egg ingredients allow formulators to create products without worrying about off-flavors.

Egg replacers are generally divided into three categories: plant-based replacers derived from soy, wheat, pea, etc.; whey protein-based; and carbohydrate or gum-based. Each has a unique set of characteristics that formulators must take into consideration. For example, some egg replacements do not emulate the sensory profile of REAL eggs and/or may contain a strong flavor. For others, the functional range may be limited.

Complementary or Complete Protein?

ProteinJust as functional differences exist between proteins, nutritionally not all are the same either. There are complementary or incomplete proteins and complete proteins. Plant-based proteins for example, would be considered incomplete or complementary because they would lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids in the proportion and/or the amount required by the human body. Complementary pairings ingested within a certain time frame must attempt to supply the complete set of essential amino acids the human body requires.1

Eggs are a high-quality protein, and considered complete because one egg supplies nine essential amino acids (EAA). These EAA are found in greater amounts in eggs than in vegetable-based proteins.2 Eggs contain the EAA leucine, which stimulates muscle protein synthesis in the body. Because of their EAA profile and high digestibility, eggs have traditionally been used as the standard of comparison for measuring protein quality. In addition to its high-quality protein, one standard large egg supplies 13 other essential nutrients for a nutrition profile not found in any single substitute ingredient.3

Substitute ingredients have an amino acid content suppliers might describe as “complementary,” which means more than one type of protein must be used in formulation to supply a complete amino acid profile. Companies that manufacture these products sometimes identify the other ingredients a formulator might need to add to an application in order to create a complete protein. Instead of combining different ingredients, formulators can choose to use REAL eggs.


The protein source, whether animal- or plant-based, does affect sustainability. While plants produce a lower amount of greenhouse gases than animals, there are additional factors to consider when evaluating sustainability of a protein source. A landmark study that examined U.S. egg production practices over the last fifty years detailed the egg industry’s successful efforts to reduce its environmental footprint. Improved hen feed, better disease control and reduced use of natural resources have benefited the environment as well as improved animal health. The study found that the U.S. egg industry lowered its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 71 percent and improved water use efficiencies by 32 percent during that time. The industry also met the needs of a U.S. population that grew by 72 percent over the last fifty years, while increasing the hen supply by just 18 percent.4,5

New studies take a different view of the greenhouse gas comparisons of foods by factoring in nutrient density, or the nutritional value a food offers. Drewnowski noted, “The American diet is said to be increasingly energy-rich but nutrient-poor.”6

ProteinA study published in 2015 compared the energy and nutrient density of foods in relation to their carbon footprint or GHG score.7 While sugar, sweets and grains exhibited the lowest GHGs, study authors stated they have “high energy density and a low nutrient content.”

The most nutrient-dense foods in the study had the highest GHG scores. However, GHG scores of individual foods differed depending on whether the score was made on a per weight basis, per energy basis or per nutrient density. Animal-based proteins typically offer a greater nutrient density than plant-based foods. The authors recommended further study saying, “Consideration of the environmental impact of foods needs to be linked to concerns about nutrient density and health.”

Eggs’ nutrient density is often overshadowed by concerns over the cholesterol content of egg yolks and the belief that consuming them will contribute to increased blood cholesterol levels and ultimately heart disease. However, clinical studies have shown that the majority of the population does not experience significant increases in plasma cholesterol even after an extended increase in dietary cholesterol.8,9 One recent study from 2013 examined the health effects of REAL eggs versus yolk-free egg substitutes in individuals diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The results showed that a diet with moderately restricted carbohydrates that included three whole eggs per day actually improved lipid metabolism and insulin resistance in these individuals to a greater extent than the diet using egg substitutes.10

The nutrient density of an egg yolk can help contribute to a healthy diet. In addition, egg yolks contain docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), essential nutrients for infant or adult neural development and maintenance.11,12

Allergy News

The prevalence of food allergies in the U.S. is increasing and no one disputes the serious nature of foodborne allergies. However, while an average of two percent of the population under age five is allergic to eggs, studies suggest that most children appear to outgrow their egg allergy by late childhood.

Recent studies find that changes in the protein structure of eggs, resulting from cooking, can make them safe for the majority of children with egg allergies. In one study, researchers discovered that initiation of a baked egg diet accelerates the development of regular egg tolerance compared with strict avoidance.13

In another study researchers served participants standard cake/bread recipes that used eggs as ingredients, in a preparation baked at 350° F for 30 minutes. It found that more than half of the children in the study (56 percent) could tolerate the egg baked in the cake or bread product.

Children who can tolerate heated egg products appear to outgrow their allergies to eggs at an accelerated rate, compared with children with an egg allergy who maintain strict avoidance of eggs.

A presentation at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2012 Annual Scientific Meeting featured results of a survey of more than 40,000 children to find that of the eight most common food allergies in the U.S., egg allergy was the most likely for children to outgrow. Fifty-five percent of egg-allergic children ultimately developed a tolerance for eggs. Those who were diagnosed with an egg allergy before age ten were the most likely to go on to outgrow their allergy.14 The researchers said this evidence of outgrowing a food allergy could lead to these individuals being able to enjoy a much more diverse diet.

Formulating with Eggs

ProteinThe functional properties that egg ingredients provide to product formulations vary depending upon the application. However a few categories stand out.

Egg white added at 2-7 percent to pasta helps strengthen and improve pasta texture, bite and appearance, allowing for its use in a wide variety of environments, from steam tables to frozen prepared meals.

The quality and sensory properties of egg noodles declines when attempting to replace whole egg with substitute ingredients. Researchers testing cooking quality parameters, texture and color while experimenting with various substitutes found whole-egg noodles had less cooking loss and firmer texture compared with noodles prepared with substitute ingredients. And “none of the egg substitute’s studies could totally replace whole egg in the egg noodles without resulting in some loss of quality.” Further, the study said, “Noodle cooking quality is not strongly affected by the difference in protein content in egg substitutes. The results suggest that the chemical composition of the egg alternatives has more influence on the noodle quality than the protein content does.”15


In reviewing research efforts to reduce fat and cholesterol contents in salad dressing and mayonnaise, Ma and Boye16 reported the possibility of using plant-based ingredients or reduced-cholesterol egg yolk in the formulation of mayonnaise. They suggested that other ingredients with different functional roles, such as gums, starches, emulsifiers, stabilizers and fat replacers must be used to maintain the original viscoelastic properties of dressing and mayonnaise. The studies examined by the authors evaluated the behavior of using plant-based proteins, such as soybean, lupin, pea, and wheat proteins as emulsifiers to replace yolk. However, formulators might need to use multiple ingredients in order to compensate for the absence of egg’s functionalities. These additions can create labeling issues that conflict with the “Clean Label” consumer trend.


In the baking industry in particular, eggs supply binding, leavening, tenderizing, volume, texture, stabilization, emulsification, foaming, coagulation, flavor, color and nutritional value, with texture and sensory qualities as key parameters. Such a unique and extensive concentration of functional contributions is not likely to be found in a single substitute for eggs as an ingredient.

A test conducted using egg replacers in sugar cookies and peanut butter cookies found that a trained tasting panel rated the eggless cookies as significantly less acceptable than all other peanut butter cookies, judging them as unacceptable. Overall, cookies made with whole egg and egg white were ranked as significantly more acceptable than cookies made with an egg replacer. The researchers suggested that the omission of egg might have eliminated a major hydrating and binding agent in the dough, resulting in dry cookies with altered texture and flavor. The sugar cookie dough was, in fact, considered “not workable.” The researchers suggested “omitting egg from peanut butter or sugar cookies is not a viable alternative.”17


In a study conducted in 2013, researchers tested emulsifiers with different structures and functionalities. Seven eggless cakes containing soy milk were baked to determine the optimal proportions of emulsifiers necessary to produce an eggless cake sample. These included physical properties of cake batters (viscosity, specific gravity and stability), cake quality parameters (moisture loss, density, specific volume, color, texture, etc.) and sensory attributes. They then compared this with a control cake that contained egg. “Almost in all cases emulsifiers, compared to the control cake, changed properties of eggless cakes significantly,” the study concluded.18

Even in studies designed with the goal of proving that an egg replacer will work properly, the authors sometimes admit that eggs contribute “high nutritional value and multifunctional properties, including emulsification, coagulation, foaming and flavor,”19 and “because of the functional roles of egg in cake production it would be difficult to reduce or substitute egg in cake completely.”20

ProteinA 2011 study assessed muffins made with egg replacers representative of the three types of replacers available in the marketplace. A replacer containing a mixture of soy flour, wheat gluten, corn syrup solids and alginate; a fiber type of replacer containing sugar cane fiber, xanthan gum and guar gum; and a whey protein concentrate replacer. The soy flour produced muffins with the most intense aftertaste and least desirable overall flavor. The researchers found none of the replacers produced an acceptable product at 100 percent replacement and maximum replacement levels did not exceed 75 percent.21 Overall, the findings revealed that egg as an ingredient was critical to obtaining the desired product quality characteristics, as replacers altered moisture retention, bulk density, color, texture and flavor.

Kevin Keener, Ph.D., P.E., professor of food science and food process engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, pointed out that in an eggless cake comparison, while the egg is the most costly ingredient, it provides significant nutritional content and serves a variety of functional roles, including emulsification, coagulation, foaming, flavor and color development during baking. Keener said, “These functional roles are derived by the unique set of proteins present in the egg white and the lipoproteins in the yolk. The variety and content of the proteins and lipoproteins in the egg contribute to its unique ability to successfully function across a wide range of food applications.

“There have been many attempts to replace eggs with blending of lower cost plant and animal proteins and emulsifiers. The challenge is the egg protein functionality is a collective effect from a diverse set of the proteins and lipoproteins that exhibit functionality across a wide range of temperatures, storage conditions, baking conditions and food compositions. To date, all of the known animal and plant protein combinations that position themselves as egg replacers fall short in a number of roles. Thus, one can find a suitable substitute for achieving some desirable properties, but not all,” said Keener. Egg alternatives fall short of the formulation benefits found with REAL egg ingredients. Eggs’ versatile functional and nutritional properties make it difficult, if not impossible, to replace them with any single substitute.


1. Woolf, PJ, Fu LL, Basu A. Protein: Identifying Optimal Amino Acid Complements from Plant-Based Foods. April 22. Doi; 10.1371/journal.pone.0018836.

2. Layman D, Rodriquez N. Egg protein as a source of power, strength and energy. Nutrition Today 2009;44:43-47.

3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 27 Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

4. American Egg Board. The Egg and Sustainability. /food-manufacturers/why-eggs/100-btheegg-and-sustainability/469-bthe-egg-sustainability.(Accessed February 17, 2015).

5. Egg Industry Center, Iowa State University. A comparative assessment of the environmental footprint of the U.S. egg industry in 1960 and 2010, August 2013. (Accessed February 17, 2015).

6. Drewnowski, A. Concept of a nutritious food: toward a nutrient density score. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82(4):721-732.

7. Drewnowski, A, Rehm CD, Martin A, Verger EO, Voinnesson M, Imbert P. Energy and Nutrient Density of Foods in Relation to their Carbon Footprint. Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101:184-191.

8. Fernandez ML, Webb D. The LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio as a valuable tool to evaluate coronary heart disease risk. J Am Coll Nutr 2008;27:1-5.

9. Greene CM, Zern TL, Wood RJ, Shrestha S, Aggarwal D, Sharman MJ, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Maintenance of the LDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol ratio in an elderly population given a dietary cholesterol challenge. J Nutr 2005;135:2799-28014.

10. Blesso CN, Anderson CJ, Barona, J, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolism. 2013; 62:400-410.

11. Wijendran V, Huang M, Diau G, Boehm G, Nathanielsz PW, Brenna J T. Efficacy of Dietary Arachidonic Acid Provided as Triglyceride or Phospholipid as Substrates for Brain Arachidonic Acid Accretion in Baboon Neonates. Ped Res, 2002;51:265-272.

12. Gibson R A, Neumann M A, Makrides M. Effect of increasing breast milk docosahexaenoic acid on plasma and erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acids and neural indices of exclusively breast fed infants. Eur J Clin Nutr 1997;51:578-584.

13. Leonard SA, Sampson HA, Sicherer SH, Noone S, Moshier EL, Godbold J, Nowak-Wegrzyn A. Dietary baked egg accelerates resolution of egg allergy in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2012; Aug;130(2):473-80.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.06.006.

14. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) 2012 Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract FP 18. Presented November 8, 2012. website. (Accessed February 26, 2015).

15. Khouryieh H, Herlad T, Aramouni FA. Quality and sensory properties of fresh egg noodles formulated with either total or partial replacement of egg substitutes. JFood Sci 2006;71:433-437.

16. Ma Z, Boye J I. Advances in the Design and Production of Reduced-Fat and Reduced-Cholesterol Salad Dressing and Mayonnaise: A Review. Food Bioprocess Technol 2013;6:648-670.

17. Ries C, Totheroh B, Palatability of peanut butter and sugar cookies made with egg substitutes. J Am Diet Assoc 1994;94:321-322.

18. Rahmati, NF, Tehrani MM, Influence of different emulsifiers on characteristics of eggless cake containing soy milk: Modeling of physical and sensory properties by mixture experimental design. J. Food Sci Technol 2014;51:1697-1710.

19. Kohrs D, Herald TJ, Aramouni FM, Abughoush M. Evaluation of egg replacers in a yellow cake system. Emir J Food Agric 2010;22:340-352.

20. Ashwini A, Jyotsna R, Indrani D. Effect of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers on the rheological, microstructural and quality characteristics of eggless cake. Food Hydrocol 2009;23:700-707.

21. Geera B, Reiling J A, Hutchison M A, Rybak D, Santha B, Ratnayake W S. A comprehensive evaluation of egg and egg replacers on the product quality of muffins. J Food Qual 34: 333-342, 2011.


Gluten-Free Solutions Begin with REAL Eggs

Texture, chew, crumb, crust, taste and appearance — these are some of the hallmarks of a quality baked product in the eyes (or mouths) of a consumer, but devilishly tricky to recreate in a gluten-free version. Bakery items might comprise the majority of a gluten-free product line, but it also can include pasta, sauces, snacks, meats, desserts and even condiments.

Gluten-free eggs to liquid

However, formulators find baked goods a particular challenge due to the amount of gluten in traditional breads, cookies, muffins and the like. Other product categories generally rely less heavily on gluten with the possible exception of pasta. Even so, there is no single, drop-in ingredient solution that transforms a traditional formulation into gluten-free.

Fortunately there are certain tried and true ingredients that can assist with gluten-free formulating. One vital contributor is the egg. Egg ingredients supply more than 20 functional benefits to food formulators and can play a critical role to achieve proper form, function, appearance, taste, texture and shelf life. In their natural state, in the shell, eggs are completely free of gluten as are most of the further processed egg ingredients, such as liquid whole eggs, egg yolks and egg whites.

New Labeling Regulations

Each component of a gluten-free formulation matters because even miniscule amounts of gluten can add up collectively within the formulation. For example, unexpected sources of gluten can include spices or fermented ingredients such as enzymes, according to Joe Baumert, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who spoke at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in 2014. And in a facility that processes both traditional and gluten-free products, bakeries in particular can experience cross-contamination. These unexpected sources of gluten or cross-contamination scenarios can affect a product’s labeling status.

Different governing bodies around the globe have varying thresholds for gluten-free product definitions and labeling. Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom and certain South American countries all have an official position for testing and detection levels of gluten that a manufacturer must meet in order to label a food gluten free. While the term “gluten-free” implies no gluten at all, global standards generally accept a level of 20 parts per million (ppm).

In the United States in August 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established formal standards for gluten-free labeling:

  • Product must contain less than 20 ppm detectable level of gluten
  • Product does not contain wheat, rye, barley or crossbred hybrids such as triticale
  • Product contains a gluten-containing grain or ingredient derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to less than 20 ppm (Note: Oats that contain less than 20 ppm of gluten may be labeled “gluten-free” but do not need to be certified as gluten free)
  • Products naturally gluten free such as bottled water or fresh produce

While the term “gluten-free” implies no gluten at all, global standards generally accept a level of 20 parts per million (ppm).

The ruling covers all FDA-regulated foods, dietary supplements and any imports subject to FDA regulations.

What is gluten and how does it affect gluten-sensitive individuals?

While gluten is most often associated with wheat, gluten is a protein found in a number of grains in addition to wheat, such as barley, rye, spelt, kamut and triticale. Gluten is an elastic substance that forms when glutenin and gliadin bind with water. It makes dough elastic and stretchy, entrapping gas within baked goods to provide a light airy structure and appropriate crumb and texture. Gluten can be present in many other products including deli meats, soups, sauces, confections or even toothpaste. Some of these are called “hidden” sources of gluten.

A person diagnosed with celiac disease, a small portion of the American population totaling less than one percent, must avoid gluten in order to remain healthy. Celiac disorder involves an IgA or IgG autoimmune response to gluten, leading to antibodies that attack the villi in the small intestines. Long-term abuse of the intestinal tract can lead to cancer, among other harmful consequences.

...gluten-free products will experience double-digit growth through 2018.

Although currently under debate, many other individuals claim gluten sensitivity, or an allergic response to gluten without biopsy evidence of villous atrophy. Still another, broader demographic group, has voluntarily decided to follow a gluten-free diet, with a Packaged Facts survey revealing “the conviction that gluten-free products are generally healthier” as the top motivation for purchase.

Gluten-free is a label some manufacturers use to tap into the better-for-you product segment, adding gluten-free to other claims such as soy-free, dairy-free and non-GMO, for example. Major market research groups use different metrics to measure market size resulting in a wide range of results, with Mintel’s $10.5 billion for 2013 on the high end to Euromonitor at $486.5 million on the low end. However, all agree when it comes to market forecasting, that gluten-free products will experience double-digit growth through 2018.

Evidence in Favor of Eggs

In a traditional wheat-based bread product, the gluten entraps and holds air bubbles. A leavening agent causes the gluten network to expand, the heat causes the bubbles to rise and then the structure sets, forming a combination of expansion, elasticity and rigidity. Formulators might work for months or even years to perfect gluten-free bread that has proper structure, crumb, texture, appearance, rise, volume and shelf life. Egg proteins can help in many instances.

As egg proteins are exposed to acid or heat, they break and the protein strand denatures. When they aggregate back together again, they entrap air and moisture. This can provide height, volume and stability to chemically leavened baked goods.

Cakes, cookies, muffins and other sweet baked products benefit further from egg ingredient inclusions, because the sugar within the formulation raises the temperature at which egg proteins coagulate. The egg proteins form more and larger air cells, creating a light, fluffy texture, particularly appealing in cakes, muffins and other baked items where a certain level of rise and open, airy texture is expected.

Gluten-free improve products

When formulating with gluten-free flour, moisture content is a critical aspect. If the formulator is baking an item that is expected to rise and the dough is dry, it will be too dense. If the dough is too moist, the rise will be good, but will collapse during the baking period. The common complaint with gluten-free baked goods, such as cookies or sandwich bread is they crumble easily. Therefore binding properties as well as textural qualities are vitally important in ingredient selection. Egg yolks can act as a lipid source in foods by softening a product’s texture.

And not surprisingly, when bakers look to alternative flours for gluten-free formulating, the protein content of the replacement flour is a key factor. According to one expert, the flour’s protein level should be near the 10 percent typical of wheat flour, plus or minus a few points depending on whether the end product is bread, pastry or pasta. Most alternatives top out at about five percent. Rice flour might have a bland flavor, however corn, soy and potato flours all carry a more distinctive taste and are detectable in a product trying to pass itself off as a wheat alternative. A protein source such as an egg ingredient that helps with functionality and itself possesses a bland flavor is invaluable in gluten-free formulating.

Kansas State University researchers, led by Fadi Aramouni, Ph.D., investigated the use of egg ingredients in gluten-free bread to improve the taste, volume, color, moisture and texture. They presented their findings at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists’ Annual Meeting & Food Expo.

The researchers discovered that whole liquid eggs used in gluten-free sorghum bread at 25 percent on a flour basis exhibited the most favorable impact on the bread flavor, texture, volume and moisture level. According to Aramouni, “The addition of eggs made the texture softer and helped maintain moisture and retard staling, which is important to maintaining shelf life.”

A protein source such as an egg ingredient that helps with functionality... is invaluable in gluten-free formulating.

Protein Type Makes a Difference

The type of protein selected to replace the wheat protein does play a critical role in product quality,1 according to a study published in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Food Hydrocolloids. A team of researchers in Spain and Venezuela tested the effects of five different proteins from both animal and vegetable sources on a gluten-free muffin, looking at their impact on dough rheology and finished product qualities such as volume, color, texture and moisture content.

Egg white protein performed well compared to the other protein sources in the study, contributing positive functional benefits to the batter’s rheological characteristics and increasing both height and volume in the finished product.

In general, major technical challenges for food manufacturers attempting to create gluten-free baked goods include dough consistency, dense products, dry crumb structure and shelf life.

Beyond Bread

Egg protein, specifically from egg whites, can help batter and breading adhere to frozen appetizers or foods. The heat causes the egg proteins to coagulate and connect the food components with each other.

For pasta, the egg proteins enhance machinability and the pasta cooking quality, plus lend a desirable texture and color. In general a gluten-free product that includes rice or tapioca flour for example, will be lighter in color than a product with traditional wheat flour. The xanthophyll contained in egg yolks that give them their rich golden color can help add rich color to pasta or breads.

In prepared entrees eggs create gels that thicken, bind and lend structure without gluten. Especially when a small amount of wheat is used to bind products together, such as in pasta fillings or meatballs, egg ingredients can substitute.

Egg proteins can improve the mouthfeel of sweet goods and puddings by providing substantial body and smoothness. They can be used to thicken sauces, gravies and other viscous products that normally rely on wheat-based starch ingredients, according to Glenn Froning, Ph.D., food technology advisor for American Egg Board and professor emeritus at University of Nebraska’s food science department. With minor modifications to gravies and sauces, this could open up entire product categories to those with wheat sensitivity. Sauces and gravies are often utilized in frozen prepared meals, for example, and are the component most likely to contain wheat- or gluten-based ingredients.

And compared to other protein options, egg ingredients offer a bland flavor that allows the characteristic flavors of the main ingredient “hero” to come through clearly and cleanly.

Nutrition Also A Consideration

Those diagnosed with celiac disease may also be prone to nutritional deficiencies, and when following a gluten-free diet should be aware of the particular vitamins and minerals that might be lacking.2 Proper advice from a nutritionist can help remedy the situation.3

Gluten-free BV Chart

In addition, proper ingredient choices in gluten-free formulating can boost a product’s nutritional profile. One whole egg contains six grams of protein with all nine essential amino acids, which are defined as amino acids the human body requires but cannot synthesize. This includes histidine, leucine, lysine, isoleucine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine and valine. The essential amino-acid composition of egg protein is similar to the human body’s requirement, allowing the body to use the protein more efficiently for growth. Using protein’s biological value (BV) scale, with 100 representing top efficiency, whole-egg protein has a BV of 93.7 as compared to milk (84.5) fish (76.0), beef (74.3) and soybeans (72.8).4

Eggs also are an excellent source of choline, a good source of vitamin D and contain smaller amounts of B vitamins, plus A, E and K, in addition to lutein and zeaxanthin.

Choline, Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Eggs are one of the richest dietary sources of choline, an essential nutrient that plays an important role in fetal and infant brain development, affecting the areas of the brain responsible for memory and life-long learning ability.5, 6 Eggs also contain small amounts of zeaxanthin and well-absorbed lutein.7, 8 These carotenoids have been associated with reduced LDL oxidation9 and a decreased risk of cataracts and macular degeneration,10 a progressive eye condition that affects 9.1 million people in the U.S. over the age of 40 years.11 While eggs contain very small amounts of these nutrients, research has shown that the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs might be more bioavailable than from richer sources like spinach and kale.

Good Form

Formulators can select from among dried, liquid and frozen egg products available in whole egg, yolks and whites, with and without additional ingredients to provide longer shelf life or enhanced functionality. Egg products assist in emulsification, increasing volume and improving machinability while providing consistency in measurement and ensuring quality. Quality control managers can be assured that all products are pasteurized to destroy Salmonella and other bacteria. And, of course, egg products are label-friendly.

Keeping it Clean

Celiac consumers, due to the nature of their disorder are more educated than the average consumer about reading labels, and the average consumer is inspecting product labels today far more than in the past.

According to findings from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2014 survey,12 65 percent of consumers check the Nutrition Facts Panel and 52 percent read the ingredients list. Almost three-quarters of consumers or 71 percent of those responding cited healthfulness as a factor impacting their food and beverage purchases.

Listing eggs on the ingredient label keeps it short, familiar and nonthreatening to the celiac consumer. In addition, most egg ingredients add essential proteins to the nutritional value of the food, and proper nutrient intake is of utmost importance to this population. While machinability and processing will differ for gluten-free compared to traditional formulations, particularly in baking, certain ingredients provide greater benefits than others.

Listing eggs on the ingredient label keeps it short, familiar and nonthreatening to the celiac consumer.

With eggs in the formulation all types of gluten-free foods, including breaded appetizers, pizza, gravies, desserts, cookies and more function properly and present an appetizing appearance and taste. Egg ingredients exhibit a special affinity for solving formulation issues in gluten-free foods. Choose REAL eggs for a functional and nutritional ingredient that helps these specialty foods satisfy the gluten-free market


1. Matos, ME, Sanz T, Rosell, CM: Establishing the function of proteins on the rheological and quality properties of rice based gluten free muffins. Food Hydrocolloid, 2014, 35:150-158.

2. Raymond N, Heap J, Case S: The Gluten-Free Diet: An Update for Health Professionals. J Pract Gastro, 2006, 67-92(9).

3. Cupples Cooper, C: Gluten free and healthy — dietitians can help reverse nutrition deficiencies common in celiac disease patients. Today’s Dietitian, 2012, 14(5): 24.

4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: The Amino Acid Content of Foods and Biological Data on Proteins. 1971. Nutrition Study #24; Rome, Italy.

5. Zeisel SH: The fetal origins of memory: the role of dietary choline in optimal brain development. J Pediatr, 2006, 149: S131-136.

6. Zeisel SH, da Costa KA: Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev, 2009, 67: 615-623.

7. Chung HY, Rasmussen HM, Johnson EJ: Lutein bioavailability is higher from lutein-enriched eggs than from supplements and spinach in men. J Nutr, 2004, 134: 1887-1893.

8. Goodrow EF, Wilson TA, Houde SC, Vishwanathan R, Scollin PA, Handelman G, Nicolosi RJ: Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr, 2006, 136: 2519-2524.

9. Giordano P, Scicchitano P, Locorotondo M, Mandurino C, Ricci G, Carbonara S, Gesualdo M, Zito A, Dachille A, Caputo P, et al: Carotenoids and cardiovascular risk. Curr Pharm Des, 2012, 18: 5577-5589.

10. Burke JD, Curran-Celentano J, Wenzel AJ: Diet and serum carotenoid concentrations affect macular pigment optical density in adults 45 years and older. J Nutr, 2005, 135:1208-1214.

11. Website MDA: Facts, Figures and Statistics. 2014.

12. IFIC: Food & health survey. 2014. International Food Information Council Foundation, Washington, D.C.


REAL Eggs: Not all proteins are created equal

ProteinFormulators and consumers alike are sorting out the facts about different protein types as it receives mounting media and public attention. With good reason — protein impacts overall nutrition and can contribute to everyday fitness. As an ingredient, the right protein also supplies both flavor and functionality. Egg ingredients can be the perfect protein choice.

Long a favored nutrient of athletes and fitness buffs, mainstream America is turning to protein more than ever. Package labels point out for consumers the protein content of products, ranging from breakfast foods to desserts and beverages. According to Mintel data, yogurt led all other product types in 2014 for high-protein package label claims, but cereal, pasta, packaged vegetables and even ice cream also promote protein content. Even fast food establishments are jostling for the protein market share.1

Protein can be measured by two standards; its nutritional quality and its functional properties. Formulators must carefully consider the nutritional aspect of a protein source as well as its functional properties, as protein can be either beneficial or detrimental to product shelf life, texture and taste.

Protein and Beyond

One of the bestThe six grams of high-quality protein that one large egg supplies is just the beginning of an egg’s nutritional story. At 70 calories, one large egg provides 13 vitamins and minerals, including the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin2 and it’s one of the few food sources of vitamin D, identified in 2010 by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as a nutrient of concern.

This complement of vitamins and minerals relative to its calorie count makes the egg a nutrient-rich (nutrient-dense) food or ingredient. Whether egg ingredients play a major or minor role in product applications, the nutrient content of each individual ingredient in a product can impact the final label statement. Ingredients must be selected carefully and with the final label statement in mind.

The importance of proper ingredient selection and application composition is highlighted by the fact that today’s companies grapple with the paradoxical dilemma of supplying food to a consumer population that sometimes struggle with a combination of food insecurity, malnutrition and obesity.3 Various studies link food insecurity with obesity. Consumers might not be eating nutrient-dense foods that supply a proper balance of vitamins and minerals.4, 5

High-quality protein, nutrient-rich ingredients such as eggs can help create food products that provide nutrition benefits for consumers. With protein popularity at an all-time high, and indicators pointing to a segment that will continue to grow, companies can take advantage of this window of opportunity.

Protein’s Popularity

According to Mintel, the U.S. is the largest market for high-protein products worldwide.6 For example just one product category, high-protein bars, exhibited astonishing growth with launches from 2012-2013 up 126.9 percent over the previous year.

NPD Group data shows that 62 percent of consumers make a conscious effort to consume protein, yet 71 percent don’t know how much their body requires.7 With a number of protein sources and products available, there is sure to be confusion about which is most effective.

Proteins Are Not Created Equal

Because of eggs Protein is a macronutrient, like fats and carbohydrates, and provides a source of calories, or energy for the body. Protein is found in every cell in the body. It supplies energy, can boost satiety, help prevent muscle loss in older adults, and can aid athletes build muscle recovery time after workouts. Amino acids, commonly referred to as the “building blocks of protein,” perform much of the work credited to protein. The amino acid composition of a protein determines the quality of different types of proteins.

Amino acids are classified as either essential or nonessential. The body cannot produce essential amino acids (EAA), identified as histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, so they must be obtained through the diet. The protein in eggs is highly digestible and provides much of the essential amino acids.

In virtually every method used to evaluate protein quality and digestibility, egg proteins consistently rank highly with milk proteins.8

Satiety and Weight Management

85% Choose ProteinSatiety and hunger management are key components to controlling weight. Multiple scientific studies provide evidence to support protein’s benefits for increasing and maintaining weight loss resulting from appetite regulations and energy expenditure.9 A breakfast high in -protein — specifically one that includes eggs — helps curb hunger throughout the day. When dieters eat a breakfast high in protein it can help promote greater weight loss than a carbohydrate-based breakfast that contains the same number of calories.10, 11

The biological value (BV) of a protein might be a contributing factor in determining protein’s effect on appetite. One study compared a cereal breakfast to an egg breakfast. The cereal breakfast scored a BV of 42, while eggs scored a BV of 100. Study participants who ate the egg breakfast said they felt more satiated. The egg group had lower blood levels of ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger and significantly higher levels of PYY, a hormone that signals fullness, compared to the cereal group.12

Protein_BV_chartConsuming breakfast has been associated with better diet quality and greater nutrient intake, compared to skipping breakfast,13 as well as a possibly beneficial effect on appetite control and satiety.14 Specifically, eggs as a breakfast food have been found to be effective at increasing satiety and reducing subsequent energy intake.15 Skipping breakfast, on the other hand, has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.16 However, some studies have found consuming breakfast to have no significant effect on weight.17,18 While consuming breakfast, especially one that includes a high-quality protein, such as that found in eggs, contributes to diet quality, more research is needed to know if regular consumption of the morning meal results in improved weight management via appetite control.

Consumers are aware of the satiating effect of protein. Within the International Food Information Council 2014 Food & Health Survey, 91 percent of consumers agree it is important to get enough protein in the diet and 72 percent agree with the statement ‘it helps people to feel full (satiety).’ Among those trying to consume protein, four out of five get it from poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and fish, with 85 percent of that group selecting eggs as one of their protein choices.19

Protein at Every Meal

Consumers could benefitMost Americans eat approximately three times more protein at dinner than at breakfast. Studies suggest, however, that, protein intake should be spread out over the day, with 25-30 grams of high-quality protein provided at each meal.

A recent study used a seven-day crossover feeding designed to measure changes in muscle protein synthesis related to meals with an evenly spread protein intake compared to a diet that skewed protein intake towards the evening meal. The result was a 25 percent increase in muscle protein synthesis in those consuming protein evenly spread over meals. Overall, the authors indicated, “Unlike fat or carbohydrates, the human body has limited capacity to transiently store ‘excess’ dietary protein from a single meal to acutely stimulate muscle protein anabolism at a later time.”20

Benefits of Protein-Rich Diets

Protein distribution and protein intake become even more important with age. Decreased calorie intake is common in older adults, and on average, they consume fewer calories and less protein than younger adults.21 In fact, under-nutrition can be a complicating factor in elder care.22 In addition, there is a direct correlation between protein intake and muscle mass.

Sarcopenia is a progressive loss of muscle mass, function, quality and strength related to the aging process that affects23 an estimated 45 percent of older adults in the United States. As the population of adults age 60 and above continues to grow, with global estimates that this group will triple by 2050, including a large subset of individuals over the age of 85,24 experts warn that sarcopenia will become even more common. Loss of muscle mass leads to diminished strength and can contribute to falls and fractures, frailty and loss of physical function. After age 70, muscle loss accelerates to approximately 15 percent per decade.25

Further complicating the issue, adults above age 60 exhibit anabolic resistance, which means they do not respond to protein and exercise in the same manner as younger adults.26 A combination of increased protein plus exercise is critical for proper muscle retention.27 In addition, researchers note that formulators need to take into account the sensory preferences of an aging population related to loss of smell, taste and an increase in dysphagia28 or trouble swallowing.

In a presentation delivered at an Institute of Medicine Food Forum in Washington, D.C., in 2010, Jim Kirkwood of General Mills, “Formulating for Aging Boomer Consumers,” identified several key aspects of food formulating product developers need to keep in mind. Under texture and appeal, he said sensory consideration include “vibrancy, potency and consistency.” Vibrancy relates to appearance or mouthfeel. Potency refers to a “taste profile that is the ‘sweet spot’ for older adults, given that the sense of taste changes with ageing.” And Consistency refers to the food’s texture and the need to develop foods that are not, for example, too crunchy or hard.”29 An egg contains high-quality protein that is easily digestible, blends well with a wide variety of flavors and depending on preparation, can lend a texture that will meet the sensory challenges of an aging population.

A high-protein diet also might help lower the risk for developing high blood pressure. A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension30 found that participants consuming the highest amount of protein (an average of 100 g protein/day) had a 40 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure (HPB) compared to those consuming the least. Further, the researchers found that adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow up.

Protein’s Practical Side

In addition to its nutritional benefits, egg protein has a practical side. Proteins are available in different forms and different proportions within the white and the yolk, but both can contribute valuable properties to formulations. The white is the albumen, containing 56 percent of the total protein in an egg. Yolks contain slightly less than half the egg’s protein, vitamins and minerals, and the lipid components.

The category of prepared meals has witnessed an increase in the number of breakfast offerings, with handheld sandwiches and breakfast bowls gaining popularity and corresponding shelf space. Preformed egg patties or egg scrambles are an obvious choice for many of these applications as a visible, primary protein, however egg ingredients contribute more subtle benefits in other prepared meals.47% Breakfast sandwich

The egg white proteins’ coagulative properties provide structure to noodles to help maintain a desirable texture and bite when held in a liquid or high-moisture frozen medium. Coagulation helps bind other ingredients together. Egg proteins help batters and breadings adhere to a substrate in an appetizer application, or hold seeds, grains and other decorative elements onto the outside of breads and rolls, for example.

Egg ingredients, primarily lipids, form emulsions consisting of very fine droplets, which help sauces maintain a pleasant mouthfeel. The right selection of egg ingredient for a sauce application will help it maintain appearance, texture and viscosity under high-heat — desirable attributes in a product designed for microwave heating.

Star IconNutrient Density

The concept of evaluating a food’s nutrient density, especially in context with sustainability, is relatively new. As one researcher noted, “The American diet is said to be increasingly energy-rich but nutrient-poor.” Yet, there is a lack of consistent standards or criteria for measuring nutrient density. One study said, “In many cases, healthful foods are defined by the absence of problematic ingredients — fat, sugar and sodium — rather than by the presence of any beneficial nutrients they might contain.”

A study published in 2014 compared the energy and nutrient density of foods in relation to their carbon footprint or greenhouse gas (GHG) score.1 While sugar, sweets and grains exhibited the lowest GHGs; these foods also offered the lowest nutritional value. The most nutrient-dense foods in the study had the highest GHG scores, however, they offered much higher nutritional value. Therefore, the parameters used to measure a food’s value related to its GHG score can vary widely depending upon whether the criteria used was a per weight basis, per energy or per nutrient content. Animal-based proteins typically offer a higher nutrient density than the plant-based foods used in the study, including sugar, which, on a weight basis, posts the lowest GHG score. The authors recommended further study saying, “Consideration of the environmental impact of foods needs to be linked to concerns about nutrient density and health.”

1. Drewnowski A, Rehm CD, Martin A, Verger EO, Voinnesson M, Imbert P. Energy and Nutrient Density of Foods in Relation to their Carbon Footprint. Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101:184–191.

Confections and Frozen Foods

Proteins from egg whites help control crystallization in select confections and frozen foods. Crystallization impacts food quality and mouthfeel by lending a gritty texture to a substance that is supposed to be smooth and creamy. Many confections involve a super-saturated solution of sugar and water. While saturation is desired, if it occurs too quickly, crystallization will result. Egg white introduced as an interfering agent slows the process of saturation, forming finer crystals for a smooth, creamy texture. In ice cream, egg yolk disperses fat throughout the ice cream mix to prevent it from clumping. Eggs aid in whipping properties to help achieve desired overrun. And the combination of protein and fat present in eggs can help prevent the aggregation of crystal-forming compounds.

Baking with Eggs

Many baked goods owe their appearance, texture, taste and part of their shelf life to egg ingredients. Staling occurs when swollen starch chains lose water content. Egg white proteins help trap extra water and lend greater strength to the baking structure. In formulations that use whole egg, the yolk’s lecithin, a lipid, lodges in the space between the highly branched starch chain to help hold water and extend shelf life.

Egg white is comprised of conalbumin, globulins, ovalbumin and ovomucin; proteins which enable egg whites to create the largest food foams possible from a natural source — six to eight times greater in volume than the original liquid. Ovalbumin and ovomucin are primarily responsible for the formation, volume and structure of egg white foam. When heat is applied during baking, the proteins in the foam form a reinforced network that strengthens the baked good and enables it to maintain volume. Time, temperature and other variables can affect egg white foam stability.

Incredibly Flexible

The impressive list of functional benefits supplied by egg ingredients becomes even more incredible in light of the fact that eggs are a natural food. Whether including eggs in formulation for their nutritional contribution or their functional attributes, formulators can simply list them as “eggs” on the label. This is important as the push for more transparent, clean labeling intensifies. While companies are shying away from use of the word “natural,” consumers are increasingly interested in simple labels with natural ingredients. In fact, more than one research group has identified a shift from clean to “clear” labeling as a dominant industry trend, with clear focusing more on transparency within the supply chain and corporate sustainability practices.

20 functional properties In addition to the consumer trend for greater label transparency, other eating habits or preferences growing in popularity include flexitarianism and vegetarianism. Flexitarians are identified as those who have decided to include more vegetables in their diet and cut back on meat, not eliminate it. The vast majority of vegetarians who have eliminated meat will accept eggs as a viable protein option. Eggs can supply a valuable source of high-quality protein for vegetarian or flexitarian meals. According to Mintel, 12 percent of global new product launches in 2013 were labeled “vegetarian.” Yet, despite the popularity of protein, less than one percent of food and drink products launched globally carried both a “vegetarian” and “high-protein” claim.31

There will always be special market segments that can benefit from the protein eggs offer. Gluten free is predicted to grow through 2018 and eggs supply functionality in addition to supplementing protein lost when wheat flour is replaced with gluten-free alternatives. While eggs in the shell are naturally gluten free and are not a genetically modified (GM), or bioengineered food, formulators should check with their egg suppliers about the GM status of other ingredients that are sometimes added to egg products to enhance functionality.

In a world Egg ingredients offer flexibility to manufacturers who are able to select from dried, liquid or frozen versions of whole eggs, egg yolk or egg white, depending on processing parameters and functional requirements. For example, applications such as breakfast sandwiches or bowls can use prepared egg products that have been scrambled, boiled, or formed into patties.

REAL Eggs are a readily available, domestically produced, sustainable, nutrient-rich, functional source of protein to fulfill nutritional and processing needs


1. Taco Bell. (Accessed March 17, 2015)

2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2014. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, release 27 Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

3. Gundersen C. Food insecurity is an ongoing national concern. Adv Nutr 2013;4:36-41.

4. IOM (Institute of Medicine). Hunger and Obesity: Understanding a Food Insecurity Paradigm: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2011.

5. Larson NI, Story MT. Food insecurity and weight status among U.S. children and families: a review of the literature. Amer J Prev Med 2011;40:166-173.

6. Mintel. U.S. Consumers Have a Healthy Appetite for High Protein Food. (Accessed March 17, 2015).

7. NPD Group. Consumers Want More protein but Many Don’t Know Recommended Daily Amount Needed. (Accessed March 17, 2015).

8. Layman DK, Rodriguez NR. Egg protein as a source of power, strength, and energy. Nutr Today 2009;44:43-48.

9. Bendtsen LQ, Lorenzen JK, Bendsen NT, Rasmusssen C, Astrup A. Effect of dairy proteins on appetite, energy expenditure, body weight, and composition: a review of the 2012;28:1151-1156.

10. Rains TM, Leidy HJ, Sanoshy KD, Lawless AL, Maki KC. A randomized, controlled, crossover trial to assess the acute appetitive and metabolic effects of sausage and egg-based convenience breakfast meals in overweight premenopausal women. Nutr J 2-15:14:17.

11. Vander Wal JS, Gupta A, Khosla P, Dhurandhar NV. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. Int J Obes 2008;32:1545-1551.

12. Dhurandhar NV. Breakfast containing egg proteins induces greater satiety compared to a breakfast with lower protein quality. European Congress on Obesity 2012. Lyon, France. May 12, 2012.

13. O’Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Nutrient intake, diet quality and weight/adiposity parameters in breakfast patterns compared with no breakfast in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008. J Acad Nutr Diet 2014;114(supplement):S27-S43.

14. Leidy HJ, Ortinau LC, Douglas SM, Hoertel HA. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, “breakfast-skipping,” late-adolescent girls. Am J Clin Nutr 2013;97:677-88.

15. Fallaize R, Wilson L, Gray J, Morgan LM, Griffin BA. Variation in the effect of three different breakfast meals on subjective satiety and subsequent intake of energy at lunch and evening meal. Eur J Nutr 2013;52:1353-1359.

16. Bi H, Gan Y, Yang C, Chen Y, Tong X, Lu Z. Breakfast skipping and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr 2015; Feb 17:1-7 [Epub ahead of print]

17. Dhurandhar EJ, Dawson J, Alcorn A, Larsen LH, Thomas EA, Cardel M, Bourland AC, Astrup A, St-Onge MP, Hill JO, Apovian CM, Shikany JM, Allison DB. The effectiveness of breakfast recommendations on weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(2):507-513.

18. McCrory MA. Meal skipping and variables related to energy balance in adults: a brief review, with emphasis on the breakfast meal. Physiol Behav 2014;134:51-54.

19. International Food Information Council. International Food Information Council Foundation 2014 Food & Health Survey. The Pulse of America’s Diet: From Beliefs to Behaviors. (Accessed March 17, 2015)

20. Mamerow MM, Mettler JA, English KL, Casperson SL, Arentson-Lantz E, Sheffield-Moore N, Layman DK, Paddon-Jones D. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr 2014; 144:876-880.

21. Paddon-Jones D, Rasmussen BB. Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:86-90.

22. Schilp J, Kruizenga HM, Wijnhoven HA, Leistra E, Evers AM, van Binsbergen JJ, Deeg DJ, Visser M. High prevalence of undernutrition in Dutch community-dwelling older individuals. Nutrition 2012;28:1151-1156.

23. Paddon-Jones D, Short KR, Campbell WW, Volpi E, Wolfe RR. Role of dietary protein in the sarcopenia of aging. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:1526S-1566S.

24. World Health Organization. Ageing. (Accessed February 24, 2015)

25. Nutrition’s Role in Sarcopenia Prevention. By Becky Dorner, RD, LD, and Mary Ellen Posthauer, RD, LD, CD. Today’s Dietitian (14) No. 9, 62.

26. Moore DR, Churchward-Venne TA, Witard O, Breen L, Burd NA, Tipton KD, Phillips SM. Protein ingestion to stimulate myofibrillar protein synthesis requires greater relative protein intakes in healthy older versus younger men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2015;70:57-62.

27. Churchward-Venne TA, Breen L, Phillips SM. Alterations in human muscle protein metabolism with aging: Protein and exercise as countermeasures to offset sarcopenia. Biofactors 2014;40:199-205.

28. Sura L, Madhavan A, Carnaby G, Crary MA. Dysphagia in the elderly: management and nutritional considerations. Clin Interv Aging 2012; 7:287-298.

29. Institute of Medicine (US) Food Forum. Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2010.

30. Buendia JR, Bradlee ML, Singer MR, Moore LL. Diets higher in protein predict lower high blood pressure risk in Framingham offspring study adults. Am J Hypertens, 2015; 28:372-379.

31. Mintel. Numbers of global vegetarian food and drink product launches double between 2009 and 2013. (Accessed February 24, 2015)


Landmark 50-year Study Documents U.S. Egg Industry Reduced Environmental Footprint

Improved hen feed, better disease control, advancements in hen housing systems and subsequent reduction of natural resource use — reduced environmental footprint.

Research Summary

Population Increase StatisticsA new study demonstrates how the egg industry has reduced its environmental footprint over the last fifty years through improved hen feed, better disease control, advancements in hen housing systems and subsequent reduction of natural resource use. This life cycle analysis of U.S. egg production also showed the industry reduced its environmental impact while increasing hen supply by just 18 percent to meet the demands of a U.S. consumer population that grew 72 percent over the same 50-year period. The egg industry is dedicated to further improvements in efficiency and waste reduction while contributing an affordable source of high-quality, bioavailable protein to the U.S. food supply.

An Overview

In order to meet the nutrient requirements of a rapidly expanding global population, food systems must improve their efficiencies. Increased food production and environmental awareness are linked. New technologies and in the case of animals, new husbandry methods must be implemented in order to wisely utilize and preserve finite resources such as land, water and energy.

The Egg Industry Center released a landmark study comparing U.S. egg production in 2010 to the industry in 1960 to show that while egg production has increased over the past 50 years, the industry has also been able to significantly decrease its environmental footprint. Researchers conducted a life cycle analysis of U.S. egg production from 1960 to 2010 to evaluate environmental performance measures for the complete life cycle from crops to hens to the farm gate. Study findings indicate that the environmental efficiencies are the result of a wide range of factors, including the reduction of natural resource use, improved hen feed, better disease control and advancements in hen housing systems.

“The U.S. egg industry has evolved remarkably over the past five decades by incorporating new technologies to protect natural resources,” said Hongwei Xin, agricultural and biosystems engineering and animal science professor at Iowa State University, director of the Egg Industry Center and the study’s lead researcher. “Egg farmers have improved their production practices, allowing them to provide an affordable source of high-quality protein while using fewer resources and producing less waste.”

Star IconKey study results comparing 2010 to 1960:
  • Egg production releases significantly less polluting emissions, including 71 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Today it takes 32 percent less water to produce a dozen eggs.
  • Today’s hens use a little over half the amount of feed to produce a dozen eggs.
  • At the same time, today’s hens produce 27 percent more eggs per day and are living longer.

Keys to Improvement

Due to increased feed efficiency, advancements in hen housing and manure management, egg farms now use less water and energy on a daily basis and release less polluting emissions. Every aspect of the egg production process, from cultivating feed to raising the laying hens, has led to a reduced environmental footprint.

Egg Production Statistics


  • Feed efficiency plays a key role in reducing environmental impacts. Because of advancements in nutrition and bird breeding, young hens now require 48 percent less food during the rearing period than they did in 1960, and the laying hens have 42 percent better feed conversion. Using 1960 technology to produce the 2010 egg supply would have required 78 million more hens, 1.3 million more acres of corn and 1.8 million more acres of soybeans.
  • Advancements in hen housing, such as improved building ventilation, temperature control, better lighting and a more secure housing environment, help to ensure that hens are protected from disease-carrying wildlife. These techniques have been widely adopted by egg farmers across the country, leading to healthier hens with a lower mortality and higher rate of egg production. In addition, advancements in the development of preventative medicine to eliminate avian diseases have greatly improved hen health.
  • Manure management has played a role in minimizing the egg industry’s environmental footprint. The vast majority of manure from laying hens is recycled into crop production, providing nutrients for plants, contributing to healthy soils, saving energy and reducing commercial fertilizer use.

Study Methods

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the most widely used tool for studying environmental performance in food systems from a supply chain perspective. LCA is an ISO (14044) standardized framework for characterizing the material and energy flows and emissions along product supply chains, and quantifying how these contribute to a variety of resource use, human health and environmental impact potentials. In this study, Egg Industry Center used ISO-compliant LCA to quantify the environmental performance of U.S. egg production in 2010 vs. 1960.

Using industry-supplied activity data that was collected using anonymous surveys, this study first characterized the material, energy inputs and emissions associated with contemporary egg production supply chains in the United States. The system boundaries for this analysis included all cradle-to-facility gate direct and indirect inputs and emissions arising from: the agricultural and industrial production systems from which raw materials for feed inputs are derived; the processing of raw materials; the production of feeds; the production of chicks; and farm-level material and energy use and emissions of pullet and layer facilities. The data collected directly represented 57.1 million pullets and 92.5 million laying hens, or 26 and 33 percent of the respective stock populations in the United States in 2010. Subsequently, a parallel model of U.S. egg production in 1960 was developed based on published literature sources and in consultation with industry experts for comparison with 2010 production conditions. The environmental footprint indicators used in this study were acidifying emissions (acidification), eutrophying emissions (eutrophication), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, global warming potential (GWP), and cumulative energy demand (CED).


The following changes in production performance of U.S. pullets and laying hens were observed over time.

Compared with 1960 pullets, 2010 pullets have:

  • 30 percent lighter body weight at onset of lay
  • 48 percent less feed use over pullet-rearing period
  • 70 percent lower mortality over pullet-rearing period

Similarly, compared with 1960 laying hens, 2010 laying hens have:

  • 26 percent less daily feed use
  • 27 percent higher hen-day egg production
  • 42 percent better feed conversion
  • 57 percent lower mortality
  • 32 percent less direct water use per dozen eggs produced

The analysis showed the following reductions in the environmental footprint per kg of eggs produced in the U.S. over the 50-year time interval considered:

  • 65 percent lower acidifying emissions
  • 71 percent lower eutrophying emissions
  • 71 percent lower GHG emissions
  • 31 percent lower CED

The total supply of 77.8 billion eggs produced in the U.S. in 2010 was 30 percent higher than the 59.8 billion eggs produced in 1960. However, the total environmental footprint for 2010 is:

Water Usage Graphic
  • 54 percent lower for acidifying emissions
  • 63 percent lower for eutrophying emissions
  • 63 percent lower for GHG emissions
  • 10 percent lower for CED

Further analysis found that using 1960 technologies to produce the amount of egg supply for 2010 would require the following additional resources:

  • Raising 27 percent (78 million) more hens
  • Growing 72 percent (1.3 million acres or 0.53 million hectares, or 5.2 metric tonnes) more corn
  • Growing 72 percent (1.8 million acres or 0.73 million hectares, or 1.7 metric tonnes) more soybean

Demand for these additional resources would, in turn, translate into greater environmental impacts.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The study analysis of the distribution and magnitude of life cycle impacts for egg production in the U.S. in 1960 compared to 2010 provides a clear indication of the scale of environmental performance gains, both per unit production and in aggregate, achieved by the industry over the past 50 years, as well as insights into the primary contributing factors. Several key insights emerge. From a supply chain management perspective, the key leverage point for environmental performance improvements in egg production has been and will continue to be efforts to maximize feed use efficiencies because feed production accounts for the largest share of impacts in egg production both in 1960 and at present. The feed conversion ratio for egg production improved from 3.44 kg/kg in 1960 to 1.98 kg/kg — a gain of 42 percent. Nonetheless, achieving feed use efficiencies comparable to the best performing contemporary facilities (the range reported by survey respondents was 1.76-2.32 kg/kg) industry-wide would do much to further reduce aggregate impacts.

Changing feed composition has also played an important role in reducing impacts — in particular, both reduction in the total amount of animal-derived materials used, as well as increased use of porcine and poultry materials in place of ruminant materials. The concept of least-environmental cost feed sourcing is therefore of particular relevance for additional targeted performance improvements for this industry. It is recommended that similar biophysical accounting methods to those applied in the current study be used to model potential alternative feed input supply chains to ensure methodological consistency and comparability with the present analysis.

Managing feed supply chains for environmental performance must also take into account nitrogen use efficiencies. Nitrogen (N) losses from poultry manure are the second largest contributor to acidifying and eutrophying emissions, as well as a non-trivial contributor to GHG emissions in both pullet and layer facilities. Moreover, upstream impacts of N fertilizer production and use are a primary determinant of feed input-related impacts. Feed formulation, breeding and selecting manure management strategies for optimal N use efficiencies are therefore powerful tools in supply chain environmental management. Here researchers modeled N losses using standard Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) protocols. Given the margin of error associated with manure N sampling, they recommend using this IPCC-based modeling approach. This will also maximize inter- and intra-company and product comparability. However, researchers also suggest continued efforts to improve and standardize company-level manure-N sampling accuracy, in order to allow for differentiation between facilities and production strategies looking forward.

Overall, study analysis provides compelling evidence that considerable strides in resource use efficiency and animal husbandry performance in the U.S. egg sector over the past 50 years have much reduced both the relative and absolute impacts of U.S. egg production.

Looking Ahead

Progress has been made on many fronts, including animal genetics, nutrition, disease prevention, housing equipment and environmental control and efficiency of feed production and use. Contemporary productivity would have been difficult to imagine 50 years ago.

Also apparent, however, is that there remains substantial scope for continued improvement. Moreover, in light of continued declines in Energy Return On Investment (EROI) for energy carriers consumed in egg supply chains, continuous improvement will likely be necessary simply to maintain the current status quo environmental footprint of the U.S. egg sector. The benchmarks reported here, as well as the reported ranges for resource use and production efficiencies in what are, ostensibly, otherwise similar production facilities, provide an excellent reference point for industry-led initiatives for further improving the environmental performance of U.S. egg production.

Efforts to further improve feed efficiency, hen housing facilities and manure management will facilitate even greater environmental footprint reductions in the future.

The study was funded by the American Egg Board, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the United Egg Association Allied and the Egg Industry Center. To obtain data for 2010, researchers conducted anonymous surveys with egg farmers and collected data on 57.1 million young hens and 92.5 million laying hens.

Study Authors/References

Egg Industry Center

Hongwei Xin

A professor of Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science at Iowa State University; and Director of Egg Industry Center, Xin conducts research and extension programs. His focus is on air quality issues related to animal feeding operations, and impacts of housing and management factors on animal behavior, welfare, environmental impact, production efficiency, and ultimately sustainability of livestock and poultry operations.

Maro Ibarburu

The Egg Industry Center’s Associate Scientist — Business Analyst focuses his work on providing marketing and statistical information as well as flock and price projections to egg producers and allied egg industries. Ibarburu researches production efficiencies, marketing, and environmental footprint aspects for conventional and alternative production systems. He holds a M.S. in agricultural economics from Iowa State University.

Lesa Vold

Serving the Egg Industry Center in the role of Communications Specialist, Vold spent 11 years working on environmental sustainability, animal welfare, food safety and international standards related to the livestock and poultry industries. She has also applied ISO management systems framework to various industry segments including both agricultural and manufacturing.

Global Ecologic Environmental Consulting and Management Services

Nathan Pelletier

As Principal of Global Ecologic Environmental Consulting and Management Services, Canada, Pelletier specializes in sustainability accounting metrics and research. He uses environmental and social LCA, carbon footprinting, and environmental footprinting to assist companies in supply chain sustainability management and reporting. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed research and methodological studies in this domain.

View entire study online at:

50 Year Egg Study InfographicTo read or download a copy of the complete 28-page report on the Environmental Impact of Egg Production, click here.

To view or download the related infographic, click here.

To read the AEB press release, click here.

Clean Lablel

The Egg & Clean Labeling

It’s natural!

An American Egg Board briefing (white paper) on the relevance and importance of eggs in today’s clean label marketplace and their power to enhance and protect your food product’s market share.

  • People want to see ingredients they recognize and trust.
  • Clean labels more often make the difference in purchase choices.
  • 85 percent of consumers view eggs as a nutritious, wholesome choice for their families10.
  • Eggs are a key ingredient in making products better.
  • Egg products used in food manufacture are indistinguishable from fresh eggs in flavor, functionality and nutritional value.
  • Cost-effective, appealing, always 100 percent natural. Eggs can make all the difference in the marketplace.
  • Eggs are not a genetically modified (GM) food. This includes shell eggs and eggs used for processed egg products.

It’s a fact – nothing is more natural than the egg. And for consumers who look more and more for clean labeled natural products with recognizable ingredients, eggs can make an important difference in their buying decisions.

Consumers are demanding natural products because they equate natural with healthy, attracted to this “natural nutrition” they see as inherently good, fresh and wholesome.1 According to Mintel’s Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG Trend Insight, consumers desire transparency in their food. “They are very suspicious of things they don’t understand and this translates into being afraid of chemical names they can’t understand.” For this reason, they are attracted to clean labels, which have a relatively small number of identifiable ingredients. In addition, consumers will often pay more for natural products.1

And consumers aren’t wrong, particularly when it comes to eggs. As a registered dietitian and culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York put it, eggs are a “nutritional powerhouse.” Eggs provide some of the highest quality protein of any food on top of being one of the few nondairy sources of vitamin D. Eggs are a naturally nutrient-dense food, containing varying amounts of 13 essential nutrients in a package with a relatively low number of calories.

Egg products are a valuable tool in meeting diverse formulation requirements while providing the clean labels consumers crave. These products come in a variety of formats, such as refrigerated liquid, frozen, dried and specialty products.

With more emphasis today on nutrition and added protein in the diet, people have come to recognize the nutritional value of eggs. Most healthy people can include eggs in their diet. And that's good news, because as consumers become more health-conscious, they are choosing foods with minimal ingredients and fewer synthetic additives. There’s ample proof that people like their eggs.

McDonlad's Breakfast Statistic

According to McDonalds®, its breakfast items, including The Egg McMuffin®, represent 15 percent of its business. In 2012, Americans consumed 223.70 million cases or nearly 80.5 billion eggs.

Eggs are an essential part of making the foods we enjoy every day even better. And putting them on your label can be an economic asset.

Eggs: Much more than natural

Eggs assuredly give consumers a good, familiar feeling about buying products made with trusted, recognizable ingredients. But that’s not the whole story. Eggs are also a key ingredient in making products better.

20 PropertiesOne of nature’s most perfect foods improves other foods as well. Egg products contribute more than 20 functional properties, such as the ability to foam, leaven, bind, thicken, coat, color, emulsify, plus control crystallization and moisture which make many food formulas possible – naturally. Most egg products are virtually indistinguishable from fresh eggs in nutritional value, flavor and most functional properties. Eggs are priced competitively and sourced domestically, qualities important to both manufacturers and consumers.


Eggs possess unique properties and attributes unequaled by any single egg alternative. Research supports findings that eggs require more than a simple 1:1 substitution with an egg alternative to acquire similar ingredient functionality in many prepared foods.2 It takes more than one ingredient to replace the multiple functionalities of eggs, running the risk of increasing costs, while losing the eggs’ natural appeal. It’s simple – adding eggs adds value.

‘Aware Shoppers’ shape clean label trends

More and more consumers are redefining the qualities they value in the foods they eat and taking healthy diets and eating habits into their own hands. Fresh, safe, natural, healthy and chemical free are now the key words people use to describe what they’re looking for. People are increasingly aware of health concerns and the nation’s expanding waistlines. To be continually relevant in today’s market, these concerns must be addressed.

Topping the list of Innova Market Insights’ food and beverage predictions for 2013 is “The Aware Shopper.” Described as informed and knowledgeable about health and value, “Aware Shoppers” are key drivers in shaping the clean label trend.


Leaf Icon Targeting the natural market

Designed to meet the increasing demand for healthy food products at a great price, Target has introduced Simply Balanced™, a new food collection within its own brand portfolio. The Simply Balanced collection is crafted to be free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives – giving guests more of the simple, recognizable ingredients they know and want – and a food label they can understand. The Simply Balanced collection offers nearly 250 products across snacks, pasta, beverages, frozen seafood, dairy and cereal.8

These shoppers, with support from consumer advocacy groups, lobbyists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and politicians, are pushing the food and beverage industry for simplicity, transparency and credibility. Answering their concerns isn’t difficult, according to Innova, “Simple, clear labels on products send the transparency message to consumers.”3

What does ‘clean’ mean?

It’s simple, while industry has struggled to analyze clean labeling; consumers have their own clear definition. According to Food Navigator‘s Elaine Watson, it’s simple – “Today’s informed and aware consumers are looking for ingredients they recognize and have at home.”4

94 households graphicResults from the 2013 International Food Information Council “Health and Wellness” annual survey showed 93 percent of consumers prefer to see common names for ingredients on their labels. A 2011 American Egg Board survey shows that 94 percent of American households have eggs in their homes.

Beyond the definition, clean labeling means opportunity. From 2011 through the first four months of 2013, nearly 6,000 (5,928) products with “All Natural” as a label claim have been introduced, a clear indication of the rising demand for these foods. Clean labeling with familiar ingredients is also important in influencing the crucial Millennial market, where 58 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for natural products.5 There are 26 million American “healthy consumers” 50+ who “seek out natural products in supermarkets” representing $1 trillion in aggregate household income.6

Clean labeling also reflects the rise in demand for simple comfort foods, made from simple ingredients commonly found in the kitchen. It also encompasses the fresh and locavore movements, along with the nationwide surge in local farmers markets. Throughout the country, eggs continue to be associated with products that are fresh and local.

Large retail corporations, like Target, which closely follow consumer trends in packaged foods and groceries, are turning toward natural products with clean labels. If you want to be part of this growing market, you need to take a close look at your ingredients.

It’s proven that consumers’ level of familiarity and comfort has a distinct psychological effect on likes and dislikes. In a government study, respondents liked a product significantly better when it came in a familiar package than when the identical product was served from an unfamiliar package.7 Think about it this way – people mistrust what they don’t understand. For some consumers, seeing ascorbic acid on the ingredient statement might bring thoughts of skepticism, while vitamin C is more easily identifiable. Everyone understands an egg.

Webinar focuses on clean labeling

In a June 26, 2013, Food Navigator webinar, Natural & Clean Label Trends 2013, presenters discussed research data and trends involved in the growing clean label market. According to participants, manufacturers should carefully consider market drivers, consumer perception and ingredient choices.

The clean and natural labeling movement continues to gain traction, not just in the U.S. but globally, with fully 17 percent of new food and beverage launches around the world now positioned as natural, additive- and preservative-free or both. Innova research indicates clean label product launches in the U.S. from 2007 to 2012 constituted 18 percent of the market.9

Tom Vierhile, innovation insight director, Datamonitor, London, discussed clean and natural versus organic and consumer opinions about ingredients’ titles. He said no matter how small a change is instituted, companies manufacturing almost any product type could take advantage of this trend, “even something like clear packaging to show the ingredients a product contains, telegraphs to consumers their products are more wholesome.”


Star Icon5 ingredients for success

Not only are consumers seeking out products with natural claims, but companies are also using clean labeling to enhance premium products. A prime example is Häagen-Dazs Five® ice cream, made with just five simple, natural ingredients – sugar, eggs, cream, milk and flavoring. The Five brand was introduced in 2009 and since has outperformed all other Häagen-Dazs brand ice creams.1


Clean label Facts

Vierhile and other presenters warned attendees that consumers can be skeptical of natural claims and authenticity is one key to success.9 Eggs are real and authentic by nature.

Natural trends by the numbers

A survey of product trends over the past three years paints a picture of what it may take to remain competitive in a changing food market.

  • Since 2010, approximately 14-15 percent of new food products introduced in the U.S. market had a claim of “no additive,” while approximately 26-31 percent of new food products introduced in the UK made a “no additive claim.” – (Dornblaser, 2013)10
  • 61 percent of consumers believe that a product is healthier when it is labeled as “all natural.” – (Dornblaser, 2013)10
  • Products with clean labels are perceived as Natural, Pure or Premium and can generally retail for a higher price than similar products without a clean label. – (Dornblaser, 2013)10
  • Consumer demand for clean labels has a major influence in the development of new food products in Europe. – (Saltmarsh and Insall, 2013)13
  • 57 percent of shoppers were reported by Health Focus International to be interested in food formulated with ingredients that they could recognize. – (Gibeson, 2012)11
  • Häagen-Dazs Five ice cream has turned its five recognizable ingredients into substantial marketing success. – (Hensel, 2011) 12



It’s simple

Consumers have made their definition of clean labeling clear. They want to see ingredients that they are comfortable and familiar with – items they have in their homes and would use to make recipes themselves. Food industry leaders are quickly responding.

Pillsbury Simply…® cookies are advertised as being “made just like you’d make them at home with just the simple, whole ingredients you and your family know and love.” Consumers are also being greeted with an array of new products marketed using terms such as “like grandma made,” “homemade” and “homestyle.” Even if a product doesn’t have a particularly healthful profile, consumers seem to be responding to simple ingredient statements, observed Lu Ann Williams, head of research at Innova Market Insights. Innova has long identified the importance of the drive toward simplicity, first ranking it as a No. 1 trend in 2010.14

This is the time to make certain your label is doing all it can to earn and protect your market share. Research proves “all natural” labels do capture the attention of consumers and can clearly help to drive sales.1512

Whether companies decide to go “natural” with their products, it is important to be honest and simple with your messages and formulations in order to build a trusting relationship with your consumers.1 One simple, familiar ingredient can help you build that relationship. The egg.


1. Hensel, Kelly, “Natural Flavors, Colors Here To Stay,” IFT June 14, 2011;

2. “Accept No Substitutes,”

3. “Innova identifies top 10 trends for 2013;”

4. Watson, Elaine, “Who is driving the clean label agenda, and what does clean really mean?” Food, 27 February 2012;

5. Jeffries and Alix Partners, “Trouble in Aisle 5,” research report 2012;

6. Packaged Facts “Healthy 50+ Americans: Trends and Opportunities in Emerging Wellness Markets;”

7. Vanderbilt, Tom, “Accounting for Taste,” Smithsonian, June 2013;

8. Target: A Bullseye View;

9. Turner, Jeanne, “The “X” Factor – Clean Label Considerations” 01 July 2013;

10. Dornblaser, L. 2013. U.S. product Trends and Implications for Meat & Poultry. Reciprocal Meats Conference. Auburn, AL.

11. Gibeson, A. 2012. The complexity of 'clean' label. February 3, 2012. Accessed on: June 2, 2013.

12. Hensel, K. 2011. Natural flavors, colors here to stay. Accessed on: June 20, 2013.

13. Saltmarsh, M. and Insall, L. 2013. Food Additives and Why They Are Used. In Essential Guide to Food Additives, 4th Edition. M. Saltmarsh, ed. Royal Society of Chemistry,

14. Kuhn, Mary Ellen, “Consumers Seek Simplicity,” Innova Reports, 19 July 2010

15. “The Influence of Labels on Consumer Choice - Importance and Ease of Interpreting Label Information,” US - May 2010 - [Report Section]

16. 2012 American Egg Board Advertising Tracking Study

White papers

The American Egg Board is committed to providing the food processing industry with the most recent and up-to-date information as it relates to consumer trends and scientific information used in the development of applications where eggs play a role. Much has been written on the unique and irreplaceable benefits of eggs in applications such as baked goods, sauces and dressings and prepared foods. We invite you to download our latest reports.

REAL Eggs Make a Real Difference

There is no one-to-one substitution that can replace the multiple functional and synergistic properties supplied by REAL egg ingredients. We examine how REAL egg ingredients help supply the flavor, form and function to create gold standard products with consumer appeal…

Read the full white paper

REAL Eggs: Not All Proteins Are Created Equal

Not all proteins are created equal. Their amino acid composition creates a wide variety of taste profiles and functional attributes that differ depending on the protein’s origin. REAL egg ingredients offer a dynamic combination of beneficial flavor, functional and nutritional qualities….

Read the full white paper

The Egg and Clean Labeling

In its most recent white paper, AEB studies the effects of The Egg and Clean Labeling, focusing on the relevance and importance of eggs in today’s clean label marketplace and their power to enhance and protect your food...

Read the full white paper

REAL Eggs are GMO-Free

The good news for food formulators is that according to USDA, eggs are not a genetically modified (GM), or bioengineered food. This applies both to shell eggs and the eggs used for further processed products. We explore the science…

Read the full white paper

Gluten-Free Solutions Begin with REAL Eggs

The right ingredients create delicious gluten-free foods with great texture, taste and appearance; are compliant with FDA regulations for this product category. REAL eggs are gluten-free and provide a stellar functional profile…

Read the full white paper

The Egg and Sustainability

‘The Egg and Sustainability’ white paper summarizes a 50-year landmark study of the environmental impact of the U.S. Egg Industry. Improved production practices have led to healthier hens and lower resource use…

Read the full white paper

Additional Resources

Click here for the full 28 page study about the Environmental Impact of US Egg Production.

Click here for an infographic about the Environmental Impact of US Egg Production.

Click here for the press release about the Environmental Impact of US Egg Production.


REAL eggs are GMO Free

American Egg Board Explores the Science

Eggs in their natural state — in their shells — are not a genetically modified (GM), or bioengineered food. In fact, neither chickens nor eggs are genetically modified. While the large majority of corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, and these are primary constituents of most animal feeds, none of the genetic materials pass through the hen to the egg.

According to USDA, eggs are not a genetically modified (GM), or bioengineered food. This includes shell eggs and eggs used for processed egg products. Only traditional breeding techniques are used to raise laying hens in the United States; neither chickens nor eggs are modified by genetic engineering. Even when a laying hen eats genetically engineered feed, any products unique to genetic engineering are destroyed by the hen’s digestive process.

GMO Callout Regardless of the type of feed the hen consumes, her digestive process breaks down the proteins and nucleic acids present. This remains true whether the feed is from traditional or genetically modified (transgenic) sources. There is no transfer of any transgenic protein or rDNA from commercialized genetically engineered (GE) crops detected in milk, meat or eggs.1

Stephen Taylor, Ph.D., is the cofounder and codirector of the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program and a professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Taylor says that multiple studies have compared GM and conventional crops for nutritional performance in various animals, including cows, pigs, sheep and broiler chickens. These studies find the GM DNA does not survive the intestinal tract in broilers2, while other studies3, including the most recent study conducted in 2013 4, do not detect any GM DNA in eggs.

The egg industry offers other options, such as organic eggs. The USDA National Organic Program strictly prohibits GMO grains from being fed to livestock sold, represented or labeled as organic, including food products stemming from this livestock, such as eggs.

REAL eggs are a valuable addition to the ingredients portfolio of any food manufacturing operation due in part to the 20+ functional benefits they provide ... such as aeration, binding and emulsification to name a few.

Egg products without added ingredients are GMO free.

Any manufacturer or formulator purchasing egg products should check individual egg supplier to ask about the GM status of other ingredients sometimes added to egg products to enhance functionality.


1. Espanier R., 2013. The fate of transgenic DNA and newly expressed proteins. In G. Flachowsky (ed.) Animal Nutrition with transgenic plants No. 1, p. 112-127. CABI Biotechnology Series, Oxfordshire, UK.

2. Rossi F., Morlacchini M., Fusconi G., Pietri A., Mazza R. and Piva G.: Effect of Bt corn on broiler growth performance and fate of feed-derived DNA in the digestive tract. (2005) Poultry Science 84:1022-1030.

3. Aeschbacher K., Messikommer R., Meile L., Wenk C.: Bt176 corn in poultry nutrition: physiological characteristics and fate of recombinant plant DNA in chickens. (2005) Poultry Science 84:385-394.

4. Sieradzki et al: Assessing the possibility of genetically modified DNA transfer from GM feed to broiler, laying hen, pig and calf tissues. (2013) Pol. J. of Vet. Sci. 16(3):435-441.