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Eggs set to be defined a ‘healthy food’ by the FDA

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Eggs are a staple in many kitchens, and the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation noted that a new proposed definition from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may formally classify eggs as a “healthy food.”

For the first time since 1994, the FDA is updating its definition of “healthy” foods to align with current science and nutrition guidelines. In the proposed definition, the FDA states eggs “provide important nutrients, and are specifically recommended by the Dietary Guidelines, 2020-2025, for inclusion in a healthy dietary pattern.”

In those guidelines, eggs were one of the foods to be specifically called out as “nutrient-dense.”

According to the FDA, the healthy claim can serve as a quick identifier on food package labels to guide consumers on which foods will help them build healthy eating habits.

“We are pleased to see the proposed definition, which is great news for egg lovers and farmers who produce eggs,” said Hobey Bauhan, a member of the Virginia Egg Board and president of the Virginia Poultry Federation.

egg production
Image by Kartinkin77, Shutterstock

Whether they’re enjoyed boiled, fried, scrambled or as an ingredient in countless recipes, eggs are favored for their versatility. Bauhan noted that egg consumption has increased 15 percent over the past 20 years, and said eggs are an affordable protein option for consumers.

“The proposal affirms what science shows — that eggs provide exceptional nutrition, supplying the body with lots of protein and 13 essential nutrients, including choline, selenium, riboflavin, essential fatty acids, and vitamins D and B12,” Bauhan added. “It’s great to see FDA affirming the health benefits through the proposed definition.”

Additionally, the proposed FDA definition removes the limit on dietary cholesterol — something that had many “on the fence” about eating eggs said Mary Rapoport, the Virginia Egg Council’s consumer affairs director.

“It exonerates the previous bad press about eggs,” she said. “After decades of research on cholesterol, the data shows no link between eating eggs and cardiovascular disease risk.”

Lake Wagner, who operates Green Valley Poultry Farm in Washington County with his father, Rodney, said he’s also happy to see the new proposed definition. Green Valley Poultry Farm is Virginia’s largest shell egg producer, producing over 230 million shell eggs per year. He and his father are hopeful this news encourages more people to incorporate eggs into their diets.

“Eggs are an all-around nutrient powerhouse,” said Wagner, who is president of the Virginia Egg Board. “But don’t forget the yolks, folks. Nearly half of an egg’s protein and most of its vitamins and minerals, including those essential for supporting our brains and bodies, are found in the yolk.”

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