Eggs- these creamy, slimy delicious spheres always make their way into our kitchen in one way or the other. It’s the most commonly used ingredient in almost all types of dishes, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don’t know what to have for a meal, just whip up an egg! A scrumptious filling meal is ready! Eggs are an essential part of our daily lives.
What Is An Egg?
Eggs that we consume are laid by domestic birds like chickens, ducks, quails, etc. Eggs are delicious spheres with a delicate shell containing clear, liquidy, protein-rich outer egg white, also called albumen, surrounded by a delicate yellow yolk loaded with vitamins and healthy fats called lipids. The proteins that eggs contain are also allergy triggers. Two per cent of children suffer from this allergy, but some people are allergic to the yolk as well.
But, every time you want a carton of eggs, you head to the dairy section of the supermarket without even wondering why.
Now the stream of questions floods. Why are eggs in the dairy section? Are they actually dairy? Are they meat? Can a lactose intolerant have eggs?
While nothing of a huge matter to us, for the people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk proteins this is an important discussion.
So, let’s decode exactly why eggs are placed in the dairy section. The first thing that comes to our mind is maybe they are actually a dairy product.
Are Eggs Dairy?
No, they are not! The definition of dairy includes foods produced from the milk of mammals, such as cows and goats. Products like cheese, yoghurt, cream, butter and various kinds of milk fall under this category.
Whereas, eggs are not laid by mammals but by birds like hens, ducks and quails.
So, despite eggs being placed in the dairy section in almost all the stores, they are not dairy.
Now, the question arises, if eggs are not dairy then why are they placed in the dairy section in almost every supermarket or store.
Why Are Eggs In the Dairy Section?
Here are 4 good reasons for eggs being placed in the dairy section.
Eggs were delivered together with dairy products
One of the most possible reasons could be that back in time eggs used to be delivered by milkmen alongside butter and milk. As more and more people left farms and settled in cities and suburbs, they didn’t have quick access to eggs or dairy.
Hence, the milkman used to bring as much milk as a household requires along with as many eggs they need. People started associating milk along with eggs and as time passed on, stores also started keeping them together. Do you remember the old milkman’s job?
Eggs were sold at butcher shops as well. But these shops usually sold meat from larger animals and not just chicken. So, only the butcher shops specializing in domestic birds like chicken, turkey, geese, duck would sell eggs. These shops were fewer.
Eggs are required to be refrigerated just like dairy products
Every country has its own rules when it comes to washing the egg. Some countries wash the egg to prevent the spread of Salmonella. While some others rely on the natural protective thin and shiny layer present on the unwashed eggs. Whether or not to wash eggs is still an ongoing debate.
The washed eggs require to be kept cold. This means they should be kept in open fridges, just like dairy products.
When kept with dairy, cross-contamination chances are much lower
Have you noticed that even meat is kept in the fridge! Isn’t it? Then why are eggs not kept with meat but with dairy products? The answer is simple, to avoid cross-contamination. If the meat packages were to ever break, and spill on the egg cartons, the leftover blood and juices on meat can easily contaminate the eggs. Whereas, with dairy products, the chances of contamination are much lower.
Both eggs and dairy are fragile
Yet another reason for eggs not being kept along with meat is that in the meat fridge, the packages are moved around without much care. This can break the eggs easily. Whereas, in a dairy fridge, as dairy is fragile as well, care is taken while removing or placing anything. Hence, placing the eggs in dairy makes sense as both workers and shoppers would be careful in handling the egg cartons.
Even after listing such good reasons why eggs are kept in the dairy. The fact remains unchanged- Eggs are not dairy.
Then a new question arises that if eggs are not dairy are they probably meat or are they vegetarian?
Are Eggs Meat?
No, eggs are not meat. They do not contain meat fibres and are not fertilized. The eggs that we consume are unfertilized. This means that they have the nutrition essential for the growth of young chicken but are not fertilized by a rooster.
If you are wondering how this happens, let us explain. Naturally, a hen produces eggs then gets fertilized by a rooster and then lays these fertilized eggs to hatch them. But the eggs used for human consumption are unfertilized as hens are kept away from roosters. So, the fertilization doesn’t take place at all. Yet, owing to its instincts the hen lays those eggs which are not fertilized.
As long as roosters are not let inside the hen enclosure, the eggs will not be fertilized, hence they cannot grow into chickens. So, eggs cannot be considered meat.
So, are eggs probably vegetarian?
Are Eggs Vegetarian?
Yes, indeed eggs are considered vegetarian. Eggs do not require the hen to be slaughtered, nor are they fertilized so you are not sacrificing a life when cracking an egg.
Can a lactose intolerant have eggs?
Yes, absolutely! Eggs do not contain any lactose in them hence a lactose intolerant person can surely have them without any fear of allergies.
The Bottom Line
Due to prolonged association of dairy and eggs a lot of confusion has been generated. As both dairy products and eggs contain protein, it is surely tempting to lump them together. But this has led to a lot of lactose-intolerant people shying away from this protein-rich ingredient. The conclusion is that eggs are not dairy, neither meat but vegetarian. And hence a lactose intolerant person can surely have them.
Yet, the dairy section being safest with low levels of cross-contamination, eggs are kept in this section.
Hopefully, this article helps eradicate some confusion revolving around these delicious, nutritious balls. If you have any more food curiosities, do write to us in the comment box below.
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