Truth behind the rumour

Ahmed Shatil Alam tries to find the truth behind the claim of artificial eggs being imported into the country and sold to unsuspecting customers

isu01There is an old adage that ‘egg is the poor’s protein source’. In fact, all the three income groups of our country rely on eggs in breakfast or during other meals in the form of different dishes. Eggs are an alternative to the highly-priced meat. But in recent days, the prices of eggs are going out of bounds leading to lower egg consumption by the lower and middle income groups.
Addressing a programme at Rajshahi recently, Jalal Uddin Sarder, president of Bangladesh Livestock Society said, ‘Average egg consumption by a person in Bangladesh is only 70 eggs a year whereas the FAO recommends 104.’
He also reasoned that economic status, low production and misperception are causes behind the lower consumption rate. He said the perception that regular egg consumption leads to heart disease has been proven incorrect, and suggested regular intake of egg, especially by pregnant women and growing children. He also shared that demand for egg in Bangladesh is 1,650 crore, but production is 1,099 crore. Instability in the prices of eggs affects poultry farmers, and this needs to be addressed.
Given the situation, a new problem has arisen and we have seen in social media and many online news portals that ‘fake eggs’ are being sold in the local market. Allegedly many consumers were cheated after buying such products. After learning the matter New Age Xtra found some cases where the consumers say they bought such abnormal eggs from the market with distinct shape, colour and smell from regular eggs.
Tazri Ahmed, a Mohammadpur resident who also works at private company, says that she bought 12 eggs a few days back from a departmental store at Mohammadpur. At home, after cracking the egg shell, she found a different texture inside the egg. ‘We also did not get any smell from the egg which we are sure to whiff once an egg is cracked prior to cooking,’ she says.
Later, she cracked more eggs from the same dozen and encountered the same problems. ‘Actually I had read about these fake eggs from some online news portals,’ she says. According to her, the fake egg yolk is more yellowish than that of a normal egg.
Several international renowned news organisations including Forbes, New York Times quoting Chinese media reported that such eggs are made in China. In China, even eggs, seemingly sacrosanct in their shells, have turned out not to be eggs at all but man-made mixture of chemicals, gelatin and paraffin. Interestingly Chinese media also reported that instructions and such formula of making artificial-synthetic eggs can be purchased online.
Recently Independent Mon News Agency based in Myanmar and several other Myanmar-based news organisations reported that such artificial man-made eggs from China are being smuggled through the border area of Myanmar and sold in the market of big cities including capital Yangon.
According to International Business Times, fake chicken eggs being sold in China look like real chicken eggs but they’re composed of coagulants, starch, and resin while the shell is made up of gypsum powder, calcium carbonate and wax. Although the news of these fake chicken eggs is slowly making their way to mainstream media, they have been around since the 1990s. Reports say the production costs for fake eggs are lower than the real thing.
Bangladeshi experts pointed out that such products can be made in the laboratory and consumption of these can lead to physical maladies. While talking to New Age Xtra, former Dhaka University Institute of Nutrition and Food Science director and professor Golam Mawla says that such product can not be the substitute of eggs and can lead to many health complications.
‘These eggs do not have the proper protein items usually found in real eggs,’ he says. ‘These can also create digestive and allergic problems for consumers,’ he adds. He also warns that such eggs can be especially harmful for children.
Institute of Food Science and Technology of Bangladesh Council of Scientific & Industrial Research director Md Zahurul Haque also shares that he had learnt about the issue but is yet to find any products to research on them. He, however, says that if such things are true and can be eaten by people than these synthetic items can cause lever and heart diseases along with cancer.
New Age Xtra, however, talked with several egg sellers regarding the issue and all of them said that they sell only eggs and they have no idea how to distinguish the real from the artificial. Ariful Islam, a Karwanbazaar-based egg whole-seller, said that he had heard about the issue but does not know whether it is actually possible to make artificial eggs. ‘If it is real, then the government should take stern actions against the import and sale of these in the local market,’ he says.
Golam Mawla urges the government to investigate into the matter.

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