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 Burnbrae Farms our hen breeds are Leghorn or Rhode Island Red.
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.
Proper lighting, a well-balanced diet, fresh water and comfortable surroundings 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.
- EXTRA LARGE - at least 64 g
- LARGE - at least 56 g
- MEDIUM - at least 49 g
- SMALL - at least 42 g
Yolk colour Is determined by the diet of the hen and does not affect the nutritive value or quality of the egg. The colour of the yolk is based on what the hen is fed and is measured using a Roche Yolk Colour Fan. Interestingly, hens in Western Canada are fed a more wheat-based diet and have lighter yolks. In the east, hens are fed more corn, and produce a slightly darker yolk. Plus, chicken feed contains carotenoids, which are natural plant pigments (found in carrots and leafy greens). The more carotenoids in the feed, and the more a hen eats, the darker the yolk. At Burnbrae Farms, our hens have free access to their feed, so it’s possible for them to over- or under-eat, which can affect yolk colour.
Both white and brown eggs have the same nutritional profile and are equally nourishing. Shell colour also does not affect flavour or cooking performance of the egg. The difference is in the breed of the hen laying the eggs. Brown-coloured Rhode Island Red hens lay brown eggs, while white-coloured White Leghorn lays white eggs. What changes the nutritional value of the egg is the hen’s feed. For example, include flax seed in her diet and she will put more omega-3 in her eggs.
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. 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. Today’s candling methods reveal most blood spots, and those eggs are removed, but even with electronic spotters it is impossible to catch all of them. The brown shell colour also makes the spots even harder to detect when they pass over the candling light (scan eggs for defects). These tiny spots are not harmful and are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel during the formation of the egg. 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 Egg Boards maintain an egg quality program for farmers 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. Farmers are educated to meet inspection standards for management and cleanliness. Testing programs at the farm monitor the barn environment to ensure standards are met. Burnbrae Farms is one of Canada's leading producers of eggs, and like all egg farmers cooperates fully with the AAFC to ensure that the eggs produced in our laying barns are of the best quality.
Burnbrae Farms is a Canadian company which gets most of its eggs from local farms across Canada.
On rare occasions, the available supply of eggs cannot meet the demand from our customers and on these occasions we will import eggs from the United States to ensure consumers have access to fresh eggs. This occurs a few times a year, generally in high demand times such as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
As in other industries such as poultry and dairy, Canada’s trade agreements with the US provides American egg producers with established access levels to Canadian markets. All egg grading stations across Canada, including those operated by Burnbrae Farms, utilize table egg imports as authorized by this agreement.
It is also important to note that our American suppliers are approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Eggs imported from the US are packed in cartons which clearly display the USDA logo.
The trip from the hen to grading station to the retail shelf takes about 4-7 days. At the grading station, the eggs are washed and sanitized in a high-speed tunnel washer. 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. A Canadian Grade A egg must have a thick white and well-centered yolk, a very small air cell and a clean, sound shell. Burnbrae Farms has seven grading stations across Canada, one in Quebec, three in Ontario, one in Winnipeg, one in Calgary and one in British-Columbia.
Watch a video on our grading process below.
From the retail store to the table, the responsibility for maintaining egg wholesomeness is in the hands of consumers. Improper storage and handling of perishable food is the primary cause of food-borne illness. Controlling temperature is the key to preventing bacterial growth. To multiply, bacteria need food, moisture and above all, ideal temperature conditions. Below 4°C (40°F) and above 60°C (140°F) there is little or no growth. The secret to preventing bacteria from multiplying is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. The spread of bacteria from one food to another (cross-contamination) is particularly dangerous because you are unaware of it. To avoid cross contamination, use clean utensils after each task. Never use the same utensils or equipment for raw foods and cooked foods unless they have been properly cleaned. Store raw and cooked foods separately.
Processed eggs are used in the food service industry and as an important ingredient in many foods, including mayonnaise, noodles and baked goods. Processed eggs are also used in pharmaceuticals, shampoo, pet foods and adhesives. At the processing plant, special machines break thousands of eggs per day. The yolk and whites may be pasteurized and processed or special components extracted. These products are sold around the world. The shells are recycled for use in livestock feed. In addition to providing processed eggs for food service and industrial use, Burnbrae Farms also produces three liquid egg products for retail. Naturegg Omega Pro and Simply Egg Whites are available at all major banners on a national basis. Burnbrae Farms has egg processing plants in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec.
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.
Are your eggs fertilized or could they hatch?
It is not possible for our eggs to hatch. First, 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.
Why do you sell eggs from the USA?
On rare occasions when the available supply of eggs cannot meet the demand from our customers (Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas for example) we do import eggs from the United States to ensure our customers and consumers continue to have access to fresh, Grade A eggs. As in other industries such as dairy and poultry, to be compliant with past and current international trade agreements, we are required to import a percentage of eggs sold in the Canadian market. It is also important to note that we only purchase eggs from American farms or grading stations that meet Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations in order to export eggs into Canada. When eggs are imported from the United States, it is clearly labeled on the packaging.
Burnbrae Farms is a 5th generation Canadian egg business, owned and operated by the Hudson family. We take great pride in our farming history, ever since Joseph Hudson started farming in eastern Ontario in 1891. Today, we have farms, grading stations and further processing facilities in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, and British-Columbia, to learn more click here: https://www.burnbraefarms.com/en/contact/
We grade and package eggs from our own family farm and other Canadian egg farmers that ship their eggs to us, so when you purchase our eggs you are supporting local Canadian family farms.
What is the EQA program?
Egg Farmers of Canada is making it easier to identify top-quality eggs through a simple method—a national certification program. This latest initiative adds a new mark to the eggs you know and love, a symbol of the remarkable quality of made-in-Canada eggs. We call it our Egg Quality Assurance™ mark (EQA™ for short).
The EQA™ program is an initiative that certifies Canadian eggs are produced according to strict food safety and animal welfare standards, which includes on-farm inspections and third-party audits. For Canadians, it’s an instantly recognizable sign that their eggs are made-in-Canada and are of the highest quality.
EQA™ is the culmination of decades building world-class standards for food safety and animal care in the Canadian egg industry. The standards have evolved over time, building on the work of generations of egg farmers, scientists, animal welfare experts and more.
For more information on the EQATM program, please visit eggquality.ca.
How fresh are your eggs?
We pick up eggs from the producers that sell to our grading stations on average twice a week. We rotate our inventory completely every week in our grading stations. 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 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. What happens as an egg ages is that air diffuses into the shell breaking down the internal contents (denaturing the proteins for the more technical types). 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.
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 henhouse, 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.
Should I remove my eggs from the carton and use the 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.
How are Double Yolk eggs formed?
While generally rare, double-yolked eggs are a completely natural occurrence. They are the result of what is called double ovulation and most commonly come from young hens that have just reached maturity. When young hens first begin laying eggs their natural cycles of egg production are not always completely synchronized and when this occurs it is possible for a hen to release a yolk too quickly after having released the last yolk. When this happens, the two yolks will move together in the hen's oviduct and both be enclosed in a single shell in the hen's shell gland.
Double-yolked eggs do not normally end up in cartons of regular eggs because when the eggs are being graded any double-yolked eggs that are identified are separated and sold as a specialty item for consumers that especially enjoy them. You can learn more about them here: https://www.burnbraefarms.com/en/products/shelled-eggs/super-bon-ee
Why are the yolks pale?
Yolk colour Is determined by the diet of the bird. 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. 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. Eggs from Saskatchewan and Manitoba are produced by hens fed predominantly wheat-based diets, therefore, prairie province consumers are used to light coloured yolks. Sometimes, however, eggs from hens fed wheat are sold in the eastern markets and this is why from time to time you will see paler yolks in Ontario and Quebec. The diet of the bird is just different.
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.
How do I cook liquid eggs in the microwave?
Pour 1/2 cup (125 mL) liquid eggs into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a lid or plate. Cook on MED-HIGH for 60 seconds or until almost set; break up egg with a fork. Cook, covered, on MED-HIGH for 10 seconds or until set. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: For creamier eggs, stir in 1 tbsp (15 mL) of milk before cooking.
NOTE: Microwave ovens may vary in power. The microwave used for this test was 1200 W.
How do I cook egg whites in the microwave?
Pour 1/2 cup (125 mL) egg whites into a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a lid or plate. Cook on MED-HIGH for 45 seconds or until almost set; break up egg whites with a fork. Cook, covered, on MED-HIGH for 10 seconds or until set. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: For an egg white 'patty' to use on a lower fat breakfast sandwich, increase the cooking time to 60 seconds (do not break up or fluff the eggs).
NOTE: Microwave ovens may vary in power. The microwave used for this test was 1200 W.
Why am I seeing eggs in plastic cartons at the grocery store?
TEMPORARY COVID 19 MEASURES:
We are working very hard to ensure that eggs are available at your local grocery retailer. In order to meet that goal, we are temporarily reintroducing 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. Learn more about the impact of the crisis from our President, Margaret Hudson: https://www.burnbraefarms.com/en/blog/navigating-the-egg-counter-during-covid-19. We currently source more than 50#% of our material from recycled polyethylene (rPET), which could be up to 100#%, and the remaining is polyethylene 1 (PET 1) which is highly recyclable. So if you put our egg carton into your Blue Box you can be confident it will be recycled back into another egg carton or other form of packaging. This can be done over and over, which is the advantage of plastic when it is recycled.
We have always supported the idea of the ‘circular economy’ even before it was a modern catch phrase. In addition to providing great graphics and marketing flexibility, there are other advantages to plastic as a carrier for eggs. No trees are used in processing plastic, and with the move away from newspapers and into digital media for the news, the availability of newsprint raw material for making egg cartons has reduced in volume, meaning that carton manufacturers now have to source higher and higher grade paper for fibre egg cartons. On a relative basis, rPET carries a low carbon footprint in terms of packaging manufacturing, as you are starting with an existing material rather than extruding from raw. To make rPET they grind recycled plastic down and melt it back into large sheets of plastic which are then molded into our plastic cartons. This is an energy efficient process. At Burnbrae we use only packaging that is recyclable for our shell eggs, and where possible we use only recycled raw materials. Whether it is recycled paper for our fiber egg cartons or recycled polyethylene for our plastic egg packaging, we have always tried to be responsible in the sourcing of our materials. We will continue to review our packaging materials and make choices that we feel are good for our products, our consumers and ultimately for the environment.
Health and Nutrition
The Importance of Omega-3 in your Diet
Did you know omega-3 fats are vital for your health? They play important roles in cell membranes and may help to reduce inflammation throughout your body. In the early years, the omega-3 fat, DHA supports the normal development of children’s brain, eyes and nerves. Omega-3 fats may also help to promote healthy blood vessels and protect heart health. That is why foods rich in omega-3 fats are recommended as part of a healthy diet.
The Importance of Fat in Your Diet
Have you been told to cut back on fat for your health? If so, it’s good to realize your body needs some fat for good health. Understanding the basics about fat can help you make healthy choices.
Learn more here: http://bbf.burnbraefarms.com/pdf/nutritional-request/2021_Fat_E.pdf
The Importance of Cholesterol in Your Diet
Have you been told you have high cholesterol? If so, you may wonder what you can do about it. Learning the basics about cholesterol is a good place to start. First it’s important to know dietary cholesterol has little impact on blood cholesterol in most people. Steps you can take to help improve your blood cholesterol levels include eating well and being active.
The Importance of Protein in Your Diet
Have you ever wondered… why protein matters? How much you need? What the best food sources are? These are all good questions, since protein is vital to every cell in your body! Proteins are an important part of your:
- muscles and bones
- skin, hair and nails
- immune system.
The Importance of Lutein in Your Diet
Have you heard of the antioxidant lutein? Did you know lutein plays an important role in protecting your eye health and vision? Lutein is a natural compound found in foods such as vegetables, fruits and eggs. It belongs to the carotenoid family, a group of antioxidant compounds responsible for many of the colours we see in nature, such as the red in tomatoes, the orange in carrots and the yellow in egg yolks. Your body cannot make lutein, so you must obtain it from your diet.
The Importance of Brain Health
Good nutrition is vital to support healthy brain development from the very beginning. The brain’s incredible growth starts before birth. Then as healthy newborns soak up information from their surroundings, billions of connections form between nerve cells in their rapidly developing brains. Brain development continues throughout childhood and a second wave of dramatic changes takes place during adolescence.
You know how nutritious they are; now remind yourself of how delicious they are with our selection of eggs. Go ahead and crack a smile.
Our success depends on the care and attention that we provide to our hens. After all, a healthy hen is a quality-producing hen. But treating all our animals humanely isn’t just a business philosophy; it’s our moral commitment.View