Egg white tightness explained

by Laurie Gorton
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NEW ORLEANS — Although America’s current protein craze drives much of the industrial demand for egg whites, the export trade and one state’s farm regulations complicate the current tightness in egg white supply, said Shelly McKee, Ph.D., director of technical services, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, Stone Mountain, Ga.

“It’s complicated,” she said. “Egg whites are a natural, low-fat protein source, and the demand for egg white patties from the food service sector for use in sandwiches is driving up domestic demand and price.

“But so is the situation in California, where egg producers must comply with new regulations about cage size.”

Until those suppliers can adapt to the new conditions, most of the eggs consumed in that state is coming from Midwestern producers.

Additionally, avian flu problems in Jalisco, Mexico’s primary egg-producing state, also draws Midwestern eggs and egg products away their usual markets.

“This all leads to a shortage of processed eggs,” Dr. McKee said.

She assists the American Egg Board (AEB) as a technical adviser and spoke with bakingbusiness.com at the A.E.B.’s exhibit at the 2014 Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition held in New Orleans, June 21-24.

Current trends in food favor egg ingredients. For example, eggs add texture and humectancy to gluten-free baked foods, according to A.E.B. research cited by Dr. McKee.

“They are also a clean label ingredient and very friendly to the ingredient list,” she said.

Egg ingredients provide foaming, aeration, coagulation, gelation and shelf life extension. Egg white protein can form a foam six to eight times larger than its original liquid volume; no other natural ingredient has that great a foaming capacity. Egg yolk is well known for its emulsification properties. Together, white and yolk help create structure that aids in extending shelf life by controlling moisture.

Dr. McKee differentiated between shell eggs and egg products — bulk liquid whole eggs, white and yolks, as well as frozen and dried eggs. All egg products are pasteurized.

The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council is a non-profit advocacy organization concerned with trade policies involving egg products. Its members are poultry and egg products processors and allied suppliers. Dr. McKee recently joined the council from her previous position as an associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.
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