May is National Egg Month: Maryland Farmers Produce 850 Million Eggs a Year
ANNAPOLIS, MD – May is National Egg Month, a time to encourage citizens to seek out locally produced eggs and to recognize Maryland farmers who produce nearly 71 million dozen eggs a year.
“Eggs are a commodity that can work for both large and small scale producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Only nine Maryland egg producers have flocks larger than 3,000 birds. We have another 500 small-flock producers. Together, they produce about 71 million dozen eggs a year while Maryland consumers purchase 72 million dozen a year. We’re very proud of our farmers, large and small, who produce nutritious eggs to help meet the demand in our state.”
Each laying bird produces between 280 to 320 eggs a year, and the United States produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10 percent of the world supply. In Maryland, the state’s 500 small flocks – that is, operations with fewer than 3,000 chickens — produce about 9.6 million eggs or 800,000 dozen eggs per year. Only nine producers have more than 3,000 chickens and those nine producers generate more than 70 million dozen (or 840 million) eggs annually.
New USDA research shows that eggs have 12 percent less cholesterol and 64 percent more Vitamin D than previously thought. In recognition of National Egg Month, MDA’s Maryland’s Best web site (www.marylandsbest.net) is featuring eggs recipes, links to farms which sell eggs directly to consumers, and a profile of one of Maryland’s larger producers which supplies grocery stores.
Consumers who register at Maryland’s Best by May 30 will be entered into a drawing for egg-related prizes, including aprons, copies of the cookbook “Dishing Up Maryland” and a mini-Ipad (which you can use to look up more information about eggs!)
MDA and Egg Quality and Food Safety
National Egg Month is also a time to recognize MDA’s efforts through its Food Quality Assurance unit to protect consumers by enforcing the Maryland Egg Law, which requires all eggs sold in the state to meet standards for safety, quality, labeling and weight. Maryland law prohibits the sale of ungraded, cracked, dirty and/or old eggs.
All wholesalers and egg packers selling eggs in Maryland must register with MDA annually. MDA inspects large and small egg producers, wholesale, food service and retail outlets. MDA removes eggs from sale that do not comply with established standards and, when necessary, takes enforcement action against offenders. This registration and inspection system also allows MDA to trace where an egg came from in the event of an egg-related food borne illness.
MDA also provides grading services. MDA egg graders are trained and licensed by both MDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to certify eggs according to both state and/or federal standards. Consumers who purchase eggs and poultry identified with the USDA grade shield can be assured of a quality product.
In addition, MDA administers the Maryland Egg Quality Assurance Program, a voluntary program for producers and processors who agree to implement specific management and monitoring practices that have successfully prevented contamination of table eggs.
For more information about MDA’s Egg Safety and Grading Service, see: Egg Safety & Grading AgBrief.
For more information about the Maryland’s Best promotion, see www.marylandsbest.net or call (410) 841-5770.