Free-range Eggs: Not As Healthy As Regular

TAINAN, Taiwan, June 16 (UPI) — Taiwanese scientists say they’ve discovered that, contrary to popular belief, free-range chicken eggs might be less healthy to eat than regular eggs.

Scientists at the National Cheng Kung University School of Medicine in Tainan, Taiwan, said they found free-range eggs in Taiwan contain at least five times higher levels of certain pollutants than regular eggs.

In the study, Pao-Chi Liao and colleagues said free-range chickens are those that have continuous access to fresh air, sunshine and exercise, in contrast to chickens confined to cages.

Demand for eggs from free-range chickens has increased steadily due to their supposedly better nutritional qualities. But scientists suspect free-range chickens may risk higher levels of exposure to environmental pollutants.

In the study, the scientists collected six free-range eggs and 12 regular eggs from farms and markets in Taiwan and analyzed them for their content of dioxins. Taiwan, they note, is a heavily populated, industrialized island with many municipal incinerators that release toxins into the air.

The researchers found free-range eggs contained 5.7 times higher levels of dioxins and other pollutants than regular eggs. The scientists suggest their findings raise concern about the safety of eating free-range chicken eggs.

The research is reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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