When a processed food label includes the word “eggs” in the ingredients list, it typically means dehydrated or powdered eggs as opposed to fresh, real eggs.
Used as early as 1912 in camp cooking and for food rationing in the United Kingdom during WWII, powdered eggs are made by spray drying real eggs in a manner similar to how powdered milk is produced.
Powdered eggs are preferred by food manufacturers over fresh eggs as they have a long shelf life, easier shipping and storage (no need for refrigeration) and significantly lower price.
Powdered eggs are used as is without any rehydration for baking and can be easily reconstituted with water for making scrambled eggs and omelettes by the restaurant industry.
The major health related problem with powdered eggs is that the spray drying process oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to heart disease whereas undamaged, unoxidized cholesterol in fresh eggs does not.
While oxidized cholesterol is certainly a concern, at least powdered eggs are actually made from real eggs!
Now, processed eggs are about to go even further down the rabbit hole by going vegan!
Hampton Creek Foods, a company with interest from the likes of billionaire investor Bill Gates, has developed a powdered egg substitute made entirely of plant matter.
Vegan CEO Josh Tetrick explains that his company’s Beyond Eggs egg-substitute was created by completely deconstructing a real egg, analyzing its 22 special functions, and then reconstructing nature’s perfect food using nothing but plant material.
The unappetizing grey-green powder that resulted is made from sunflower lecithin, canola, peas, and natural gums from tree sap. It must be reconstituted with water to use. Tetrick claims Beyond Eggs tastes just like the real thing, but one has to wonder how a vegan would know this.
Given that the product is not organic, the canola used is most likely genetically modified. Beyond Eggs is nearly 20% cheaper than even battery-produced eggs.
Tetrick envisions Beyond Eggs as a replacement for the real and powdered eggs currently used in processed foods like mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and factory made muffins and cookies. Eggs supplying these sources account for roughly one third of the 79 billion eggs produced in the United States alone every year.
Tetrick insists that the motivation for Beyond Eggs is about economics and not about the morality of eating animal foods.
“I think the reason people like Bill Gates are interested in this is that the world population is expanding to 9 billion, and people are going to need good cheap sources of protein. Some of the economics of meat production, particularly around feed, aren’t good.”
Hampton Creek Foods already has two major Fortune 500 companies as customers. One of these has plans to use Beyond Eggs in a line of products marketed as egg free. The other is staying on the down low for the time being.
Beyond Eggs will be available online in the next one to two weeks. After that, it will likely be available through major retailers.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist