These are the chicken eggs you should avoid at all costs: the scientific signal

Although not as common as owning a dog or cat, there are not a few people who have other pets such as chickens in their yards or land. In fact, in the United States alone, millions of households raise chickens at home. And this trend has intensified even more in the last two years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, not all chicken eggs are created equal. While it is true that local food consumption is more sustainable than current forms of globalized consumption, a recent study published in Environmental pollution has discovered this eggs from urban hens can be a problem.

Back in 2018, a group of researchers from the University of California sounded the alarm: chicken owners in urban areas worry about the origin of their food, its production and the possible risks associated with the consumption of industrially produced meat and eggs. Therefore, they believe that their birds are of better quality and produce safer and more nutritious eggs and meat than their industrial versions.

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The problem, as the researchers already pointed out, was the apparent lack of regulation of these foods. This practice of self-breeding already undermined various human health and animal welfare hazards years ago and continues to occur today. For this reason, a new team of Australian researchers went a little further, analyzing the quality of eggs from backyard chickens.

And this is that, as was objectified in previous studies, the eggs from backyard hens of the townhouses they would own lead levels well above average. And in this new study, it was confirmed that these levels of lead would be up to 40 times higher than those found in commercially available eggs.

In this case, chickens from 55 residential households in the city of Sydney were tested for the study. Both the chickens and their eggs were tracked for lead, and contaminants in drinking water, chicken feed, and soil were measured at each location.

As the researchers themselves point out, there is currently no global standard for safe levels of heavy metals in eggs, but currently the average level of lead in commercial hen eggs is around 7.2 µg/kg, while the study found lead levels in urban hen eggs to be around 301 µg/kg.

lead contaminated soil

Previous studies have already analyzed Lead levels in eggs from public gardens in New Yorkopening to 100 µg/kg, a restriction that the researchers classified as probably safe. In this new Australian study, more than half the eggs exceeded that limit.

On the other hand, this new study suggests that contaminated soil will be the primary source of lead exposure for hens raised in urban backyards, and blood and egg lead concentrations may be directly related to red soil lead levels.

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To keep eggs below the 100 µg/kg limit, the researchers estimate that lead in sleep should be below 117 mg/kg, or four times lower than the Agency’s current guidelines. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Levels of Lead in Residential Areas. However, it is worth noting that the EPA recommends significantly lower levels of lead in soils from horticultural or food-related crops.

It was further found that older homes tend to have higher lead levels both in their soil and in their chickens and eggs, a finding that would agree with previous studies where this contamination would be linked to the use of lead-based paint, leaded gasoline and lead pipes as was common years ago.

In conclusion, the researchers argue that urban agriculture should not disappear, but should be encouraged. However, for those living in inner-city areas in cities, they want to remember the need to be aware of the levels of pollution present and the need to test their soils before starting such farming: pollutants build up in soils over years and can enter the food chain through consumption of vegetables or animal products.

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