Just as the food safety authorities have got their act together to check the veracity of ‘farm eggs containing plastic’, referred to by a section of the media as ‘Chinese eggs’ by dispatching samples collected from stores in Ernakulam for lab tests, a group of BJP workers created boisterous scenes in front of a hypermarket at Vyttila, claiming that it had been selling ‘factory-made Chinese eggs’.
T. Balachandran, general secretary of the BJP for Thrikkakara constituency, who led the workers to the hypermarket soon after the hartal called by the party was over around 6 p.m., said the eggs supplied by an Edapally-based merchant under two brand names “contained plastic that burnt with a rustle”. One of the workers said the “eggs are manufactured at factories in China and reach Kerala through Namakkal in Tamil Nadu”, referring to some articles suggesting the same in language dailies in Malayalam over the past two days.
However, the food safety authorities said it was impossible to “manufacture eggs in factories”, nor could they be adulterated “by inserting plastic into the shell”. “However, since there was a huge public outcry, we collected samples from various stores in Ernakulam and sent them for testing in our own laboratory as well as at Kerala Agricultural University at Mannuthy.
“We are trying our level best to obtain the test result tomorrow [Friday],” he told The Hindu .
Officials, who did not want to be quoted, said the eggs in question could have been dipped in a wax solution for preservation, and that the thin wrap of what was described by people as plastic could be wax.
The phenomenon of eggs containing ‘plastic’ was first reported in Idukki district.
While K.P. Aravindan, president of Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad, lamented the absence of critical thinking and common sense among a large section of credulous people who bought the factory-made egg story without an iota of doubt.
An article published on Luca , an online science magazine supported by the Parishad on Wednesday had called the doubters’ bluff by questioning the technical feasibility and economic infeasibility of the whole story.
It is impossible to manufacture eggs in factories, nor can they be adulterated by inserting plastic into shell.
Remember National Egg Coordination Committee’s slogan, “Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao ande (Be it Sunday or Monday, have an egg every day)”? Mind the last word, it is ande (eggs) and not anda (egg), I would argue with my mother as a child, in a bid to convince her to part with at least two eggs as part of my daily ration. Whether I succeeded or not is another story. Sigh.
Now, one would have to think twice before acceding to his or her child’s request. For all the proteins that a humble egg packs in itself, having an egg might be a health hazard, if the reports of fake eggs flooding the Kerala markets are anything to go by. A regional TV news channel ‘exposed’ the fake eggs being sold in the markets in Idukki district, following which there have been reports of raids and confiscation of the fake eggs in other parts of the state, too.
Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has, reportedly, directed the state food safety commissioner to probe the matter.
Though the origin of the ‘Chinese eggs’, as they are being referred to, are yet to be known, some reports suggest they are coming in from Tamil Nadu.
How to check for ‘Chinese eggs’
There is little in terms of appearance to differentiate between a real and a fake egg. The shell of the fake egg is slightly harder and rougher than that of a real one and there is a rubbery lining inside the shell.
On tapping a fake egg lightly, you will hear a less crisper sound than you would hear in case of a real egg.
If you break the egg and keep it for some time, the egg white and the yolk will soon mix with one another, since they are essentially made from the same ingredients.
The fake eggs do not stink even if cooked and kept in the open for days, and do not attract ants or flies.
When you fry a fake egg, the yolk will be spread without being touched unlike a real egg.
How they are made
The fake egg white is made by mixing sodium alginate to warm water, and then adding gelatin, alum and benzoic acid to the mixture.
The same mixture is used to make both the yolk, by adding a yellow colouring agent, and to make the fake egg membrane, by adding calcium chloride to it.
The fake egg shell is made from calcium carbonate, paraffin wax and gypsum powder.
And if you are wondering why take all the trouble to produce artificial eggs, then know this—it is much quicker to make an egg than to wait for a hen to lay one!