What's the difference between brown and white eggs?
It's not uncommon to have a personal preference between brown eggs and white eggs. Some people admit they prefer brown eggs because of the colour, while others prefer the cheaper price of white eggs.
Despite having a personal preference, many consumers wonder about the true difference between brown and white eggs. Many consumers guess that because brown eggs are more expensive, they must be more nutritious. That is not the case.
The reality is that the colour of an egg’s shell simply comes down to the breed of the hen. In Ontario, white eggs typically come from White Leghorns, which are hens white in colour. Brown eggs come from Rhode Island Reds, which are brown in colour.
The general rule is that white eggs come from white hens, while brown eggs come from brown hens. There can be exceptions, and some white-feathered breeds of hens can lay brown eggs and vice versa. However, more often than not, white lays white and brown lays brown.
Ontario egg farmers are proud to provide consumers with choice in the egg case, so we encourage you to purchase whichever eggs you prefer most. Rest assured that whichever eggs you choose, you will get the same freshness, quality and nutrition from both brown and white eggs.
Did You Know?
Did you know there is a breed of hen called Araucana that lays pastel turquoise eggs? You won't find these eggs very often as the hens are not common. Although these eggs have been touted as having less cholesterol, the reality is that their cholesterol content is similar to regular white and brown eggs. (If you're concerned about cholesterol, keep in mind that cholesterol in our food isn't what raises blood cholesterol.)
Why Do Brown Eggs Cost More?
Once people get the answer to the brown vs. white egg question, inevitably, they want to know why brown eggs are usually more expensive than white eggs. There are a couple of reasons.
Size of the Hen
Rhode Island Reds tend to be bigger in size than White Leghorns and therefore require more feed. Naturally, this means the cost of production is higher, which impacts the cost to consumers.
In Ontario, it is more common for egg farmers to breed White Leghorns, which means that there is a larger supply of white eggs than brown eggs. Because the availability of brown eggs is lower, brown eggs are considered novelty or specialty eggs, which increases their price.
What colour egg is healthiest?
Contrary to some people’s belief, there is in fact no nutritional difference between standard white and brown eggs. Some specialty eggs are enriched with additional nutrients that cause them to be considered more healthy. Examples of these eggs include Omega-3 or vitamin-enriched eggs, which can come in both a white or brown shell.
Some consumers believe that free range eggs are healthier because they have a vibrant orange or dark yellow yolk. Free range eggs typically have a brown shell, which is another reason why some consumers believe brown eggs are healthier.
In reality, neither egg shell colour or egg yolk colour are indicators of nutrition. Farmers typically produce free range eggs with a brown shell as a way to visually differentiate from standard white eggs, not because brown eggs are healthier.
Why are brown eggs more expensive than white eggs?
There are several reasons why brown eggs are more expensive, but nutrition is not one of them.
In Ontario, brown eggs are laid by Rhode Island Reds that are bigger in size than the breed of hen that lays white eggs. Rhode Island Reds require more feed, which increases the production cost of brown eggs to farmers. This increase in cost is reflected in the price of brown eggs.
Finally, there are less brown hens in Ontario compared to white hens, which means the supply of brown eggs is lower than white eggs. As a result, brown eggs are considered specialty eggs that command a higher price.
Why do chefs use brown eggs?
There are several factors that influence a chef's choice between white and brown eggs, such as cost, availability, marketing, and personal preference. However, it's important to note that the decision to use brown or white eggs does not stem from any difference in quality, taste, or nutritional value. Both types of eggs are interchangeable options for chefs in professional food establishments.
In Ontario, chefs often opt for white eggs instead of brown eggs during service because they are more readily available and come at a lower cost.
Why do brown eggs taste different than white eggs?
There is no real difference between the taste of brown and white eggs, however that does not mean that all eggs taste the same.
Different factors like the hen’s feed, the freshness of the egg and the cooking method used can all affect the taste of an egg. Generally, shell colour is unrelated to the taste of an egg and should not be used to determine which type of egg tastes better.
Why are white eggs cheap?
Several factors contribute to white eggs being cheaper than brown eggs. Firstly, White Leghorns that lay white eggs are extremely popular on egg farms across Ontario, which means the availability of white eggs is higher in Ontario. This naturally makes the price of white eggs lower than specialty eggs that are harder to find.
Finally, White Leghorns are smaller in size than Rhode Island Reds and require less feed. This makes white eggs cheaper to produce, which is reflected in the lower cost to consumers.
Are brown eggs better for you than white eggs?
Egg shell colour is not an indicator of the nutritional value of an egg. There is no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.
In addition, all eggs produced by local Ontario farm families follow strict guidelines related to food safety, cleanliness and animal care, which ensures that all eggs consumers buy in stores are fresh and safe to eat. As a result, you can feel comfortable buying Ontario eggs that are any shell colour.
Do chickens lay white eggs naturally?
Some people believe that white eggs are bleached, but this is not the case at all. Certain breeds of hens, such as White Leghorns, naturally lay white eggs.
Although eggs are washed with a mild, food-safe soap solution in the grading process to remove dirt and debris like feathers and manure, eggs are never bleached in Canada. You can rest assured that all shelled eggs purchased at the grocery store are their natural shell colour and are safe to eat.