Frequently Asked Questions
All time Favorite question
Are Island Gold eggs fertilized or could they ever hatch?
This is one of our favourite questions. You cannot imagine how many times we are asked this question. Firstly, there are no roosters in our barns; therefore, the eggs are not fertilized and could never hatch into chicks. Secondly, even if they were fertilized, eggs must be kept incubated at a high temperature in order to hatch and therefore no chick would have time to develop since they are collected and refrigerated almost immediately after being laid. Under the proper conditions (good nutrition, adequate water, low stress, right season, etc.), today's leghorn chicken will naturally lay an egg about every 26 hours.
General Egg Facts
Are your eggs local from Vancouver Island?
Today we employ 50 Islanders and pick-up eggs from 32 egg farms on the island and the Lower Mainland to help meet the growing demand for BC eggs. We do everything we can to supply island raised eggs to those who prefer them. If you are interested in only buying eggs processed at Island Eggs, there is an easy way to check. Look for the code on the end of the carton and if it begins with BI, the lot code and date code will look like this: 2020MA14 / BI123A, you can be assured the eggs are from our facility on the Island.
Are Island Gold and Naturegg eggs fresh?
We pick up eggs from the producers that sell to our grading station on average twice a week. We rotate our inventory completely every week in our grading station. Our stores receive deliveries of eggs at least twice per week. In fact, the eggs once they reach the grocer should be no more than 10 days old and many get there within 2-3 days of being laid.
How can you tell when an egg is fresh?
Firstly, there is no difference nutritionally between a day-old egg and a 2-month-old egg as long as they are held at the proper temperature (0 to 8° C). However, the functional properties of fresh eggs are better than old eggs (e.g., they perform better in baking and in meringues). Old eggs resemble fresh eggs in many ways and sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the two. If you crack an egg open and it spreads all over the pan then it is not fresh. As an egg ages, air diffuses into the shell breaking down the internal contents (denaturing the proteins). This causes the bonds in the molecules that comprise the egg to break down and the egg does not hold together as well. Fresher eggs stand up better when you cook them and are much nicer to work with. Conversely, older eggs are easier to peel when hard-boiling.
To test if eggs are fresh, put them in some water and see if they float. If they do, then the air cell is quite large, indicating that the eggs are not fresh.
Do I have to keep my eggs refrigerated?
Yes, you should keep your eggs refrigerated. Government regulations are very strict in Canada to the point that we have one of the safest food chains in the world. Eggs must be kept refrigerated at all times. This includes at the farm prior to shipping, the grading station, the grocery store and your home. Refrigeration limits the growth of bacteria. It also keeps the egg 7 times fresher than leaving it out of refrigeration. This means that an egg in refrigeration will keep 7 times longer than one that is not. It is important to refrigerate eggs, but if a dozen is left out for a few days, be sure to cook it fully, and this will kill any harmful bacteria that may develop. This would mean scrambling, hard boiling or using them in baking, instead of Sunnyside up. The yolk should not be runny.
Should I put my eggs into the little egg trays supplied by the refrigerator manufacturer?
No. Eggs are very porous, meaning that the shell has tiny little holes through which air can escape and enter the egg. The egg will absorb strong odours in the fridge, like onions for example. Therefore, it is best to leave eggs in the carton and use that little tray for something else.
When I crack the egg open the whites run all over, making it difficult to fry.
As eggs get older the stability of the whites weakens and results in eggs that appear flat and runny. Use fresh eggs from young hens for the best possible quality. Eggs from older hens tend to have thinner whites, but have the same nutritional value.
Can I eat eggs past the Code Date?
On average, a 45-to-49-day code is put on eggs to ensure maximum freshness and Grade A quality. Eggs up to three weeks a month past the code date are still safe to eat. It is some of the functional properties that might not be as good (e.g., they may not bind cakes together as well). The rate at which quality is lost depends on many factors including handling and storage practices, and temperatures. To be safe, it is best to thoroughly cook any eggs that are past their code date or eggs that have been out of refrigeration for several days that may be within the code date. That means that yolks should not be runny.
Can I eat Pee Wee eggs without yolks? How are Double Yolk eggs formed?
Pee Wee eggs come from young hens. The reproductive systems of young hens are not fully developed and sometimes they will lay eggs without yolks. Sometimes they will also lay eggs with 2 yolks. Double yolk eggs are like having twins. If you look at the shape of the shell there is usually a ridge in the middle, which makes them look like two eggs that have been pushed together, which is essentially what the chicken has done. It is safe to eat both doubles and Pee Wee eggs with no yolks.
The yolks are pale. Are they still okay to eat?
The colour of the yolk is dependent on the diet of the bird. Feed containing a large percentage of wheat, barley and oats produces lighter yolks and feed containing a large percentage of corn produces darker yolks. We grade mainly locally produced eggs. Eggs from Ontario and Quebec are produced by hens fed predominantly corn based diets and therefore Ontario and Quebec consumers are used to dark yolks. Egg from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia are produced by hens fed predominantly wheat based diets, therefore, Western Canada consumers are used to light coloured yolks.
How do I make hard boiled eggs that peel easily?
The trick to hard boiling eggs, believe it or not, is to use mature eggs! Eggs should be purchased at least one week in advance. The egg has a membrane that surrounds the white and yolk and this sticks to the shell. As the egg ages, air diffuses into the egg and comes between this membrane and the shell. Eggs that are between 10 and 21 days old are probably the best for hard boiling. Cook them for 10 minutes for hardboiled and 3 minutes for soft boiled.
How do I cook an egg in the microwave?
Sprinkle a little salt into a microwave-safe custard cup or ramekin. Crack an egg into the cup and use a fork to prick an "X" into the yolk. Cover with a lid or plate. Cook on MED-HIGH for 40 seconds for a semi-soft cooked egg or 45 seconds for a hard cooked egg.
Tip: Position yolks in the centre of the cup for even cooking.
NOTE: Microwave ovens may vary in power. The microwave used for these tests was 1200 W.
Plastic egg cartons?
TEMPORARY COVID 19 MEASURES:
We are working very hard to ensure that eggs are available at your local grocery retailer. To meet that goal, we temporarily reintroduced plastic egg cartons for some products because our packaging partners are experiencing challenges in providing us with enough fibre cartons to support the recent surge in demand for eggs at retail. Our fibre carton packaging suppliers have struggled to keep up with the increase in demand within the North American carton market. We do have some good news though; we have been advised that our suppliers are able to provide more fibre cartons and we anticipate all plastic cartons being removed from our supply chain in the next few months.
Please be assured that the plastic packaging we use is made from PET1 plastic, the most common and the easiest to recycle.
Have you changed your best before date code labeling?
Best before date codes on plastic and fibre cartons are now being printed by laser technology as opposed to stamping the cartons with ink. This process is CFIA approved and is safer, cleaner and uses less energy than traditional physical stamping with ink.
Free Run eggs
What are Free Run eggs?
Free Run housing consists of a large, open concept where the hens can roam freely inside the barn.
The hens have access to nests and perches and have room to take short flights. Flooring can be made of slats or dust and straw, which enables the hens to dust bathe.
Free Run housing allows hens to perform more of their natural and instinctive behaviours, like taking short flights and dust bathing. This can also be to its detriment, though, as dust bathing can decrease the air quality in the barn and increase mortality rates. Larger groups of hens can also lead to a more aggressive development of the pecking order.
The eggs are rolled out from the nesting area onto a conveyor belt for collection. These belts carry the eggs to a centralized collection area where the eggs are automatically packed wide-end up to keep the yolk centred.
The hens’ feed is delivered in troughs that run through the barn. Hens are fed a balanced diet including soy and canola protein, and grains like corn and wheat, as well as minerals and vitamins.
Free Range eggs
What are Free Range eggs?
This housing system offers all the amenities of Free Run housing with the additional option for the hens to go outside, weather, and environmental conditions permitting. To meet organic standards, the hens must be fed organic ration and be housed in a Free-Range barn.
The hens are free to roam indoors and outdoors – weather permitting, of course. Access to food and water can be more challenging to monitor with larger open-concept social groups like these. Monitoring and ensuring the well-being of free-range hens requires more resources to keep a healthy barn operating.
Outdoor access provides the hens the ability to scratch and forage. While Free Range and Free Run barn systems offer the greatest amount of freedom to the hens, they have a much higher carbon footprint and require a much higher operating cost than Conventional and Enriched.
The eggs are rolled out from the nesting area onto a conveyor belt for collection. These belts carry the eggs to a centralized collection area where the eggs are automatically packed wide end up keeping the yolk centred.
In a Free-Range barn, although hens have access to the outdoors, most prefer the inside comfort and safety of the barn. This is also true in the summertime, as the barn interiors are kept cool. Hens prefer the barn interior, where they feel safe and find their feed, water, and nesting boxes.
Island Gold Brown Eggs
What's the difference between brown eggs and white eggs?
Egg colour tends to be chosen by what people are used to, which is usually determined by their region of origin. For example, individuals raised in Europe tend to eat brown eggs because that is what is sold there. Brown eggs in Canada are mainly produced by the brown Rhode Island Red and white eggs are produced by the white Leghorn. The colour of the egg is purely genetic, and was probably first determined by what best camouflaged the egg when the bird was in the wild. The catch is that brown chickens tend to be bigger and they eat more feed, so brown eggs are more expensive to produce than white eggs. Brown shells do tend to be somewhat thicker and therefore less prone to breakage and able to keep the egg fresher. Otherwise, there is really no difference in nutritional value between white and brown eggs.
I've found a lot blood spots in Brown or Free Run eggs.
Brown chickens tend to deposit blood spots more readily in their eggs, and therefore it is more likely to find these in brown eggs than white eggs. The brown shell colour also makes the spots harder to detect when they pass over the candling light (scan eggs for defects). The blood spot is simply a small amount of blood and is not harmful for human consumption. You can easily pick it out with a knife.
Island Gold Free Run Omega 3
Island Gold Free Run Omega 3 is a nutritionally enhanced egg for people looking for natural foods with more essential nutrients. While all eggs are nutritious, natural and offer a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals, Omega 3 eggs also provide an additional source of DHA omega-3 fatty acids. To produce these eggs, our chickens eat an all-natural, flax-based diet that was developed by researchers at the University of Guelph.
Island Gold Free Run Omega 3 eggs have the same great taste and cooking versatility as regular eggs.
Island Gold Veggie Fed
The hens that produce Island Gold Veggie Fed eggs are fed an all-natural vegetarian diet that contains no medications, antibiotics, or animal by-products. These eggs are an excellent source of vitamin D, B12, selenium, and protein. Island Gold Veggie Fed eggs are an excellent alternative for vegetarians and health-conscious consumers.
Island Gold Organic eggs
What are organic eggs?
Island Gold Organic eggs are produced by hens fed organic feed. This means that the natural grains of wheat, barley, oats, etc. fed to the that is manufactured to our specification and in accordance with the Canadian Organic Regime. Ecocert Canada is the CFIA accredited certification body that certifies that our organic products are in compliance with the Canadian Organic Regime. Furthermore, the hens that produce Island Gold Organic eggs are raised in Free Range housing, which are wide open barns equipped with nests and perches. The hens have access to the outdoors weather and environmental conditions permitting. Also, they are not fed antibiotics or medications. Ecocert Canada is the certification body that oversees the production of our Island Gold Organic eggs guaranteeing to you the best possible product.
Naturegg Omega 3 Eggs
Please explain what Naturegg Omega 3 eggs are.
Omega-3 fatty acid nutrition can be very complicated, so you should clarify all facts with your physician. Some key points on omega-3:
- Naturegg Omega 3 eggs are low in saturated fat, an excellent source of vitamin E and a source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Naturegg Omega 3 eggs are produced by chickens fed a diet enriched with flaxseed. The research on this diet was conducted at the University of Guelph by poultry science specialists.
- Flaxseed is high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (LNA).
- Research suggests that North Americans do not get enough omega-3 fats or Vitamin E.
- Omega-3 is linked to the prevention of heart disease.
- New research has also linked the consumption of omega-3 fat to proper brain and eye functioning in young children and the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, breast and colon cancer and other disorders including Alzheimer’s.
- Other sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are fish (esp. salmon, mackerel, sardines), flax, wheat germ, soy products, walnuts, green leafy vegetables (purslane) and canola and these are not common in the North American diet. We do not eat much fish, flax or canola, which have good omega-3 content. We eat too many foods with a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. For example, corn and wheat are in many of the breads and cereals that we eat, and also are fed to the livestock that we consume. This means that there are many sources of omega-6 and few sources of omega-3 in the diet.
- Omega-3 and omega-6 are both essential polyunsaturated fatty acids. This means that you have to eat them; your body does not produce them.
- It is the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 that is important. Currently, the ratio is greater that 10:1 omega 6: omega 3 while less than 4:1 omega 6: omega 3 ratio is optimal.
- Also, you need to watch the TYPE of omega-3 that you eat. Plant derived omega-3 is made up of LNA, while fish and egg sources also provide the longer chain DHA (docasohexanoic acid) and EPA (eicopentanoic acid). You need dietary sources of the longer chain EPA and DHA because these are the types of omega-3 specifically linked to the prevention of heart disease and other disorders by recent research. Your body will convert the LNA into DHA and EPA, but only to a limited extent.
- In fact, the American Heart Association is recommending 900mg of DHA per day to maintain proper heart health. Two Omega 3 eggs provide 165 mg of DHA and a 2-egg equivalent of Omega Pro provides over 500mg of DHA plus EPA.
Why are Naturegg Omega 3 eggs more expensive?
Naturegg Omega 3 eggs are produced from hens fed a ration that contains flaxseed and vitamin E. These components are very expensive, increasing the cost of these eggs.
If you are really interested in omega-3 polyunsaturated fats and how they work in the body, here's some really technical information that I gleaned from leading edge research scientists and dietitians:
- Recently there has been a lot of positive press about eggs in general and more specifically, our new Omega 3 egg that was developed and introduced to the Canadian market in 1996.
- Based on research done at the University of Guelph, we started to feed our chickens a ration rich in flaxseed. This has the effect of enriching eggs with omega-3 polyunsaturates. What the chicken eats affects the eggs much like what a pregnant woman eats affects an unborn infant.
- We could add more flaxseed to produce an even greater omega-3 enrichment, but we would have eggs that taste like fish and the consumer taste panels showed that consumers prefer eggs that taste like eggs.
- We also add vitamin E to the hen's diet to produce these eggs. So these eggs are also rich in vitamin E. In fact 2 Omega 3 eggs provide 100 % of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E and for an adult male 40% of omega-3 polyunsaturates.
- For a woman between 29 and 49 years of age, the recommended daily intake of omega-3 is 1100 mg per day, so 2 eggs are about 70% of this requirement.
- New research conducted at the University of Guelph has shown that only about half of the pregnant and nursing women in Canada get their daily requirements of omega-3, so these eggs could be very important for them since omega-3s are so important for developing infants (especially for brain and eye development)
- As you probably know, there are several polyunsaturates in the n-3 series, and flaxseed contains only alpha-LNA. The hen however converts part of the shorter chain alpha-LNA into the longer chain DHA. The end result is that our eggs contain the following composition of fats:
- They are low in Saturated fat with only 1.5 g
- They contain approximately 1.6 g of monounsaturates
- They are trans fat free, as are most eggs.
- They contain approximately 190 mg of cholesterol.
- They contain approximately 690 mg of omega-6 and a minimum of 380 mg of omega-3 for a ratio of less than 2:1
- Of the omega-3s approximately 1.5 % or 6 mg is EPA, 76% or 290 mg is alpha-LNA, 18% or 70 mg is DHA, and 3% or 12 mg is DPA
- alpha-LNA in a regular egg is 25 mg - increases to 290 mg with our omega-3 eggs.
- DHA in a regular egg is about 40 mg - increases to 70 mg in our omega-3 eggs
- To put this in perspective, it is estimated that the average North American currently consumes about 70 mg of DHA a day, so eating one egg per day could double the average daily consumption of this important polyunsaturated fatty acid.
- DHA is concentrated in the membranes of the brain and retina and is believed to be important for normal brain functioning and visual acuity.
- DHA also has an anti-arrhythmic effect in the heart - It seems to suppress the arrhythmia, reducing the chance that it would convert to a heart attack.
- Humans convert about 5% of the alpha-LNA into the other more beneficial longer chain PUFAs, EPA and DHA. So the more that are consumed, the more that are converted.
- The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the diet is also important. Omega-6 and omega-3 shorter chain PUFAs compete for the same pathways for conversion into the longer chain PUFAs, and so the higher the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, the fewer omega-3s that will be converted.
- A ratio of less than 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3 is recommended and not greater than 10:1. Currently, this ratio is estimated to be 10.3:1 in North America, indicating that we need more sources of omega-3 and more specifically more sources of food with a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. These eggs have a 2:1 ratio, as previously indicated.
- Human consumption of these eggs has shown no scientifically significant changes to the fat composition of the human subjects - i.e. no changes in serum triglycerides or cholesterol.
- The cholesterol did not scientifically increase significantly.
- In some studies the serum triglycerides decreased, but results of this nature have not been consistent across all studies, and so no concrete conclusions can be made.
- However, serum levels of total omega-3s and more specifically, DHA, did go up after eating these eggs. Significantly elevated DHA concentrations in platelet phospholipids were also found after consumption of the modified eggs. This is believed to be related to the elevated DHA in the eggs as opposed to the conversion of alpha-LNA to DHA. There is evidence that individuals with higher levels of DHA in their blood have lower death rates due to heart attacks. It is believed that DHA has an anti platelet forming effect (i.e. the DHA gets into the platelets & the platelet aggregation is reduced - or they become less sticky).
- Consuming a food high in alpha-LNA and some DHA is not as beneficial as consuming a food high in both DHA and EPA, like fish. However, we are not suggesting that fish or other sources of omega-3 be replaced by these eggs, but that these eggs be added to a balanced diet to provide another source of omega-3 in addition to fish.
Naturegg: Natures Best Egg (Vegetarian)
What are Naturegg Nature's Best eggs?
Basically, the main difference between these eggs and regular eggs is the vegetarian feed ration that is fed to the hens. This combined with the fact that we select the eggs from young hens in the peak of their production.
We also guarantee that the hens on the Naturegg Nature's Best program have been fed no antibiotics or medications. If a flock of birds gets sick, which is currently fairly rare, they have to be treated just like a human does. This will mean that the hens would be fed some sort of medication that complies with Agriculture Canada regulations. However, some people are concerned about additives, medications, etc. We guarantee that if the hens on the Nature’s Best program go on a medication, they will be taken off the program. There are no medications, antibiotics or preservatives in the feed of these hens.
The most popular breed for egg production in Canada today is the White Leghorn - a small, light bird that lays far more eggs than its ancestors. Each stage of the hen's development cycle requires specialized care and attention. Chicks are hatched at hatcheries, raised in pullet barns for about 19 weeks and then transferred to the laying hen barn for their egg production life. At Island Eggs, we grade eggs from both hen breeds: White Leghorn (white eggs) and Rhode Island Red (brown eggs).
The average laying hen produces more than 320 eggs a year. Hens begin egg production at five to six months (19 weeks) of age and continue to lay for at least 12 months.
Eggs automatically roll out for collection and are gathered twice a day. They are then packed and refrigerated on the farm, ready for delivery to the grading station. By having different flocks of hens at different ages, egg producers have a steady supply of eggs to market and a stable year-round income.
A well-balanced diet, fresh water, comfortable surroundings and proper lighting are essential for hen health and production. A hen's diet consists of grains, proteins, vitamins, minerals and plenty of fresh water.
Making the Grade
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada regulations define three quality grades that apply to eggs for sale to customers. These are:
- Grade A - sold at retail markets for household use
- Grade B - used mostly in bakeries
- Grade C - sent to egg breakers for processing
Only Grade A eggs are sized. They are sized according to the weight of each egg. Grade A small, medium, large and extra large. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada inspectors monitor graded eggs to make sure they pass rigid standards. Obviously this weight includes the shell. Nutrition information in Canada is based on the large egg without the shell or a 50g serving.
- Peewee – under 42 g
- Small – 42 g - 48 g
- Medium – 49 g - 55 g
- Large – 56 g - 62 g
- Extra Large – 63 g - 69 g
- Jumbo – over 70 g
Is determined by the diet of the hen and does not affect the nutritive value or quality of the egg. Hens fed a larger portion of wheat in relation to other components of the diet produce eggs with pale yolks. A diet containing a high proportion of yellow corn or alfalfa, for example, will result in eggs with much darker yolks. The choice of grains depends primarily on the availability of these crops.
May vary from white to brown, depending upon the breed of the hen. There is no difference in nutritive value between a brown shelled and a white shelled egg. Shell colour does not affect flavour or cooking performance of the egg.
Egg White Colour
Sometimes an egg white may have a greenish colour due to the presence of riboflavin (Vitamin B12). Carbon Dioxide in a very fresh egg may cause the white to be cloudy. In both cases, the egg is perfectly safe for consumption, and cooking performance is not affected.
Blood or "meat" spots are occasionally found on an egg yolk. These tiny spots are not harmful and are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel during the formation of the egg. Mass candling methods reveal most blood spots and those eggs are removed, but even with electronic spotters it is impossible to catch all of them. If desired, the spot can be removed with the tip of a clean knife prior to cooking.
Care, Quality, and Safety
Burnbrae Farms and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) work cooperatively at the producer, grader, restaurant and retail levels to ensure that our customers can have confidence in the safety and quality of eggs.
To encourage and promote the production and marketing of high-quality shell eggs, the regional Producer Boards maintain an egg quality program for producers prior to grading. In cooperation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), ungraded eggs from registered flocks are inspected for interior and exterior quality factors. If flocks are found to have low quality, the eggs are directed to the processing market. Producers are educated to meet inspection standards for management and cleanliness. Testing programs at the farm monitor the barn environment to ensure standards are met. Island Eggs is responsible for grading and packaging the eggs that are produced only by farmers on the Island and other areas of British Columbia. Island Eggs, like all egg producers cooperates fully with the AAFC to ensure that the eggs produced in our laying barns are of the best quality.
The trip from the hen to grading station to the retail shelf takes about 4-10 days. At the grading station, the eggs are washed and sanitized in a high-speed tunnel washer. Then, a thin film of odorless mineral oil is sometimes applied to help seal the porous shell and preserve freshness. Eggs are then candled by passing them over a strong light to remove any imperfect ones. Legislation ensures that all eggs sold in retail stores and restaurants must be graded at a station which conforms to rigorous federal standards. Canadian Grade A eggs must have a thick egg white and well-centered yolk, a very small air cell and a clean, sound shell.
Here are some brief guidelines to help you with the easy and safe storage and handling of eggs in your home.
- Always store eggs in the refrigerator in their original cartons. This will keep them fresh and prevent them from absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator.
- Eggs are usually good if refrigerated for one to two weeks after purchase. The "sell by" date is 30 days after the pack date on the carton. They are good however 4 -5 weeks beyond the pack date.
- To tell if an egg is fresh, place it in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom and lie on the side. As the egg ages, the air cell in the large end becomes larger. As it does, the egg becomes more buoyant. An older egg will stand up in the bowl of water and a really old egg bobs along the top.
- A cloudy white is a sign of freshness. The cloudiness comes from the high carbon dioxide content of a freshly laid egg.
- Thick white is a sign of freshness. If there is a lot of jelly-like white, the egg is fresh. As it ages the white thins out.
- The stringy things on the sides of the yolk are the chalazae. These are twisted strands of white which act like nature's little seat belts holding the yolk securely and protected in the middle of the white. The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg.
- Eggs are placed in their carton's large end up to keep the air cell in place and the yolk centered.
- To remove eggs that are stuck to cartons, try wetting the cartons to loosen them.
- If your hands are damp it is easier to handle eggs in the shell.
- If you drop an egg on the floor, sprinkle it heavily with salt for easier clean-up.