Are cage-free eggs really healthy?

Posted at 6:02 PM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 18:02:58-05

Eggs, a simple common grocery product, that's recently become more complicated.

“People have the perception of a cage-free egg is healthier,” said Wayne Toryer, General Manager of Sauders Amish Eggs, who works with several area farms, both cage-free and conventionally housed hens.

He also says he’s seen a huge demand for free roaming chickens and their eggs.

“We have seen an increase of about 20 percent over the last two years."

Paul Yoder is a local farmer specializing in producing caged-free eggs. He's also noticed a business increase over past few years.

He says, “We started with very, a small amount you know, but today we serve 200 families in the greater Akron and Cleveland area."

And big food chains, like McDonald's and Wendy's, are catching on to the trend as well.

“Basically, from them it's a supply chain issue where they're just going to suppliers and saying we want cage-free eggs and that's how we want the eggs produced," says Dr. Michael Lilburn, Poultry Science Professor at Ohio State University’s Agriculture Technical Institute.

With Ohio being home to the second largest egg industry in the US, any shift in the supply will affect farmers, especially those with conventional cages.

So is it really healthier and is it worth the big changes? Lilburn says the science just isn't there.

"There are really no differences whatsoever in eggs produced by hens in cages or cage-free eggs, from a nutrient standpoint."

The egg industry is moving in many directions here in Ohio with some farmers changing their productions to accommodate more cage-free eggs.

 And as far as big food chains go, McDonald's announced this year that it hopes to use 'only' cage-free eggs by 2025.


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