Prior to the recent launching of the first multicolored boiled eggs produced in sub-Saharan Africa, the colours of eggs, assuming there is any worthy of consideration are the naturally occurring white eggs or brown eggs, with the latter being more popular. For the records, these colours are determined mainly by the breed of the bird that lays the eggs and not any other factor. Eggs were sold 100% raw from the farm gates either to distributors and retailers directly. The concept of further processing (powder form) remained foreign to the industry and difficult to attain and sustain. Now, there is a revolutionary breakthrough that may help renew the excitement around eggs and to change the current perception for good. Coloured hard boiled eggs!
What are hard-boiled coloured eggs?
First of all, these have nothing to do with the rumored plastic eggs originating from the Far East in Asia circulating on social media. A customer expressed this fear during a food exhibition attended by Funtuna Food and Bottling Company (FFB). These are eggs produced from the natural egg laying cycle by intensively reared poultry under safe and standard conditions which are further selected for boiling, varnishing, cooling and packaging through an automated system. You may be wondering what “varnishing” means. Well, it’s simply the process of applying a glossy finish on the eggs for two basic reasons; protection and aesthetics. Most people find a shiny or glossy finish to be more attractive, but more fundamentally, the varnish serves to protect the egg shell pores from water bacteria infiltration and water damage thereby prolonging the shelf life of the egg over three times longer than a regular non-varnished egg. These eggs are boiled and varnished using European state-of-the-art egg cooking and spraying technology, which is in the hands of only a few food companies globally.
How long has the tradition of colouring eggs existed? There are claims that as far back as 60,000 years ago, African Ostrich eggs were decorated and engraved for festive reasons. Fast forward to a few hundred years ago, in the 1600s where the Christian customs of staining eggs in red during the Easter season came about to signify the blood and resurrection because eggs are usually associated with fertility and rebirth. Modern customs have now substituted eggs with chocolate wrapped in foils or eggs shaped plastics filled with confectionery such as candies.
Can we “celebrate Easter” all year round? Why not?
There is news and good news for that matter. Eggs are back in multiple colours and are here to stay all year round. It may not be Easter celebration every day, but what could be called its “symbolic representation” is now available all year round. The essence is to stir up a conversation around the subject matter of eggs every day and not to restrict it to festive seasons or to World Egg Day, which is celebrated yearly in the first week of October. In addition, the per-capita egg consumption in Nigeria is significantly lower than the floral average. Nigerians on average consume less than 80 eggs per person per year, while in China; Mexico and U.S.A people consume over 300 eggs per person per year, dwarfing our national average. This highlights the opportunities for growth and expansion for the egg industry in Nigeria, as there are many eligible candidates for eggs that are not eating enough or that are simply not eating. It is a chance to spread the evidence based facts that eggs contain good cholesterol and do not contribute to nutrition related heart diseases, on the contrary, eggs contain all nine essential Amino Acids (protein and muscle development), Calcium (bones), Sodium, Iodine, Selenium, Choline for nerve and brain development, Vitamins (A, B, D and E), folic acid (fetal development), Leutin and Zeaxanthin (eye development) in addition to many more minerals and nutrients.
What’s the process behind Funtuna hard-boiled eggs?
Freshly laid eggs are selected from our healthy flock, kept for a few days in a special room to increase the air chamber within the eggs (this later on assists with the smooth peeling experience when you get cracking). The eggs are properly cleaned and leaded into the cooking machine that takes over the whole process of boiling, coloring and cooling down the eggs. As mentioned earlier, once the eggs are generally boiled, the natural protective film layer on the egg is lost, exposing the micro pores of the eggs to bacteria infiltration and moisture penetration, which aid the spoiling process. The coloring or “varnishing” process serves to replace that protective coating initially lost through boiling. This extends the shelf life of the eggs to over 4 weeks at steady room temperature after boiling. Best before dates are recommended in order for end users to be able to keep track of production dates.
How safe is this colourant?
The chemical substance used for the coloring is essentially the same adopted in several areas of the food industry such as in the brightening of chocolates, sugar candy coasting, pharmaceutical coloring, cake icing etc and it is recognized by the FDA as a safe inactive ingredient. The substance is called shellac and it’s a European Union approved food additive. In other words, it’s 100% safe and food grade. So, if you happen to see a minor color shade on your boiled egg matching its shell color during peel, do not, panic it is safe to eat.
What should we expect from you next?
Yes, eggs are great for people of all ages and sizes and it is recommended that all should consume an egg a day. The American Heart Association agrees, the Irish Heart Foundation agrees, the British Heart Foundation agrees and the Food Standards Agency also agrees. Therefore, please join Funtuna on the N300 campaign, which aims to create awareness about the nutrition value of eggs and also to correct the misconceptions and myths surrounding egg consumption in order to increase the per capita egg consumption eventually to 300 eggs per person per year and above. Have you had your egg today?