As a child, I thought “go to work on an egg” was an advert for oval shaped cars. Starting soon after the end of World War II, “Go to Work on an Egg” was a long-running campaign that became one of the most successful food promotions of all time. Humorous television (see below) and newspaper ads encouraged the British public to eat an egg at breakfast and, by the 1960s, we were each dipping, scrambling and frying our way through five a week. Back then, every doctor in the land said eggs were good for health but come the 1970s our love affair with them started to crack. Medics warned that eggs could raise cholesterol levels and when Conservative MP Edwina Currie suggested that all British eggs might be infected with Salmonella in 1988, egg sales went splat – dropping by 60% overnight.
Research now shows that most of our eggy worries stink worse than ten day old omelette. Scientists from Scandinavia recently analysed the egg-eating habits of 1,000 middle-aged men over a five year period, and found that eating eggs does not increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Eggs contain a goodly amount of cholesterol – but it is not the same type of cholesterol that clogs up the arteries. Eating eggs has a negligible effect on blood cholesterol levels, it is the high saturated fat foods, such as cream, butter, cheese and fatty meat that do the damage (all the nice things, sadly). A decade’s worth of science now concludes that eating up to seven eggs a week is perfectly safe.
But better than that, eggs are a highly nutritious food: they are high in protein and are bursting with essential vitamins and minerals. In light of the latest evidence, health organisations the world-over have dropped their egg-eating restrictions faster than Humpty Dumpty.
The sulphuric comments by Edwina Currie have also been laid bare. British eggs are now the safest in Europe and those stamped with the red British Lion can be safely eaten with a runny centre, even during pregnancy. Research shows that there is no real nutritional benefit from eating free range or up-market organic eggs, although the hens will thank you for buying them. Food poisoning risks from eggs are very low but eggs should nevertheless be stored in a fridge and thrown when past their expiration date; while pre-prepared food that contains eggs needs to be kept chilled and eaten within 2-3 days. (More on egg safety can be found here.)
Now that we can finally get to the yolk of the matter, it seems that going to work on an egg could be a great way to start your day after all. Just make sure it’s not one that has been brought by the Easter Bunny.
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