The Wall Street Journal Poses the Question Are Eggs Bad for You?


It was with extreme surprise and a sense of disappointment that The Wall Street Journal resuscitated the debate over egg cholesterol in the September 17th edition.

Dr. William Roberts, Executive Director of the Baylor Scott and White, Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University and Medical Center dredged up the usual canards concerning egg cholesterol. It is surprising that a scientist in his position still believes that a large egg contains 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol. It is now generally accepted that the content of large eggs is in the range of 175 to 200 mg.

The major points advanced by Roberts concerning the potential deleterious effect of eggs relates to studies involving herbivores in which plaque develops in the intima of arteries after feeding diets with exceptionally high cholesterol content, inconsistent with a human diet containing one egg per day. Roberts also criticizes research published in peer-review journals showing no demonstrable effect from moderate consumption of eggs as being biased due to support from the Egg Nutrition Center, a component of the American Egg Board.

In contrast, Dr. Maria Fernandez, professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut maintains that there is no evidence to suggest that consuming an egg each day elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease. She notes that dietary guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2016 no longer place an upper limit on dietary cholesterol intake.

Consistently, studies conducted by independent researchers have shown that there is no adverse effect from moderate consumption of eggs and biomarkers of heart disease are not elevated by an intake of one egg per day. Dr. Fernandez also pointed to the beneficial nutrient content of eggs, a fact which is grudgingly conceded by Dr. Roberts.

Egg cholesterol as a factor in inducing cardio-vascular disease is a dead issue. Why The Wall Street Journal should dredge up outdated concerns given the host of other public health problems is questioned. Perhaps the WSJ should concentrate on the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017 as an issue of significance. Given their emphasis on business and economics, the WSJ could also consider the cost of both prescription and generic drugs and healthcare in general.


Egg Industry News

Updated USDA Projections for 2018 and 2019 Egg Production


The USDA Economic Research Service issued an updated September 18 th 2018 forecast of egg production unchanged from the previous August 16th report. The volume of eggs produced and per capita consumption in 2019 were increased by 1.7 and 0.8 percent respectively over 2018. Consistent with this disparity the benchmark New York price was reduced by 13.2 percent in unit value Production data reflecting 2016 and 2017 should be compared to 2015 which was impacted by the Spring outbreak of HPAI in the upper-Midwest. The latest data is reflected in the table below.










2018 2019 Difference %

(projection) (forecast) 2018 to 2019





Production (m. dozen)




7,835 7,970 +1.7%


Consumption (eggs per capita)




278.4 280.7 +0.8%


New York price (c/doz.)




143 124 -13.2%


Source: Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook - September 18th 2018

*Impacted by Spring 2015 HPAI outbreaks. Consumption in 2014, 267 eggs per capita

Subscribers to EGG-NEWS are referred to the postings depicting weekly prices, volumes and trends and the monthly review of prices and related industry statistics.


USDA Weekly Egg Price and Inventory Report, September 20th 2018.

  • Hen Numbers in Production Increased 0.8 million to 320.0 million Continuing an Upward Trend
  • Shell Inventory down by 0.6 Percent From Previous Week
  • Generic Prices for Extra Large, Large and Medium Unchanged Compared to Previous Week.



According to the USDA Egg Market News Reports posted on September 17th the Midwest wholesale prices for Extra Large, Large and Medium sizes were unchanged compared to the past week. The progression of prices during 2018 is depicted in the USDA chart reflecting three years of data, updated weekly.

The September 17th USDA Egg Market News Report (Vol. 65: No. 38) documented a USDA Combined Region value rounded to the nearest cent, of $1.00 per dozen delivered to warehouses effective September 14th This price lags current Midwest weekly values by one week. The USDA Combined range for Large in the Midwest was $0.91 per dozen. At the high end of the range, price in the South Central and Southeast Regions attained $1.04 per dozen. The USDA Combined Price last week was 41 cents per dozen below the three-year average and 1 cent per dozen below the corresponding week in 2017.




According to the September 13th 2018 WASDE Report #581, 81.8 million acres of corn will be harvested in 2018 to yield 14.83 Billion bushels. The soybean crop is projected to attain 4.69 Billion bushels from 88.9 million acres harvested. The increased production is based on projections of higher yields resulting in larger ending stocks. This is reflected in lower CME prices as posted.


Quarterly corn and soybean stocks were estimated by USDA in a release on June 29th to total 5.3 Billion bushels (36.2 percent of 2017 harvest) and 1.2 Billion bushels (27.3 percent of 2017 harvest) respectively.


The following quotations for the months as indicated were posted by the CME at close of trading on September 14th together with values for the corresponding months in parentheses.


Status of 2018 Corn and Soybean Crops


The USDA Crop Progress Report released on September 17 th updated the status and condition of 2018 corn and soybeans. Corn is denting at 93 percent of the crop, 7 percent over the 5-year average. Half the crop is mature and nine percent has been harvested.

Soybeans have completed blooming and setting pods consistent with good soil moisture and climate conditions. Approximately half of the crop has started dropping leaves, 17 percent ahead of the 5-year average. Six percent of the crop has been harvested

EGG-NEWS and CHICK-NEWS will report on the progress of the two major crops as monitored by the USDA during September and will continue posting updates through the end of harvest in October.


Crop Parameter (%)

September 9th

September 16th

5-Year Average

Corn Emerged

Corn Silking

Corn Dough

Corn Dent

Corn Mature

Corn Harvested

















Soybeans Emerged

Soybeans Blooming

Soybeans Setting Pods

Soybeans Dropping Leaves

Soybeans Harvested


















Crop Condition

V. Poor





Corn 2018

Corn 2017











Soybeans 2018

Soybeans 2017












Soil Parameter

V. Short




Topsoil moisture: Past Week





Past Year





Subsoil moisture: Past Week





Past Year






Additional H7 LPAI Cases in Stanislaus County California


The third and fourth poultry flocks in Stanislaus County, California have been reported as presumptive positive H7 strain applying PCR assay according to authorities in California.  Samples from both flocks have been referred to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames IA. for confirmation and molecular characterization.  The third flock was confirmed positive for H7 strain AI by PCR on September 19th 2018 by NVSL.  


The third flock of 23,700 non-commercial mixed poultry (pastured chickens, ducks, and turkeys) was located within the 2-mile zone of the index flock of 26,000 turkeys diagnosed in Stanislaus County has been quarantined and hopefully confined to prevent further dissemination of AI virus.


The fourth flock of 116,000 commercial organic light seven week-old turkeys located within the 2-mile zone has been quarantined.


The index and second flocks have been depopulated. 

Stanislaus County, California


The cluster of LPAI cases, all with presumed outside access, based on reports of organic status demonstrate the vulnerability of flocks which are not confined to barns with netting to exclude wild birds.


Stanislaus County has a high population of commercial egg production and turkey growing flocks which would be at risk if wild bird reservoirs are present and if there are deficiencies in biosecurity. Further outbreaks may prejudice exports of poultry and products.



AEB Sponsors Competition in Hong Kong


The AEB sponsored a pastry competition during mid September in Hong Kong.  Contestants were given three hours to create four different types of éclair using U.S. table eggs, liquid eggs and dried egg products. 


Vivian Wong of the Shangri-La Hotel placed first in the competition.


For the period January through July Hong Kong was the leading importer of table eggs with 25.1 million dozen shipped valued at $24.7 million representing a unit price of $0.98 per dozen.


The American Egg Board is working in collaboration with USAPEEC to increase imports of egg products to countries in Asia.  Local demonstrations and competitions represent a significant promotional benefit for producers.


San Antonio Restaurant Source of Foodborne Infection


Approximately 250 diners at the Pasha Mediterranean Grill in San Antonio reported clinical symptoms consistent with foodborne infection after dining at the restaurant over the Labor Day weekend.


Fourteen cases yielded laboratory-confirmed Salmonella infection with twelve hospital admissions.


According to the owner, problems were experienced with refrigeration following an electrical failure on September 2nd and the restaurant was closed for the two subsequent days. In May, the restaurant was cited by the Public Health Department for deficiencies relating to hand washing, improper storage of food and failure to train workers.  Previous inspections in 2017 disclosed violations including expiration of a food license.


Raw Milk Dairy Implicated in E. coli Infection


Consumers of non-pasteurized milk purchased from Dungeness Valley Creamery were diagnosed with E. coli infection.  Accordingly the Washington State Department of Health has issued a warning to consumers although this action is questioned by the owners of the farm.  The dairy is supplied by 60 jersey cows on 38 acres and was certified as a raw milk producer in 2006.  The dairy was linked to an E.coli outbreak in 2009 and milk was recalled in 2013 after E.coli was determined in routine samples.  Raw milk is a vehicle for Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and if herds are infected also with Brucella and Mycobacterium.


Scientific investigations have failed to reveal any specific advantage associated with raw milk over pasteurized milk.  Epidemiologic data confirms that the small proportion of raw milk consumed in the U.S. is responsible for an overwhelming proportion of milk-borne infections.


National Egg Products School


The National Egg Product School was presented at the University of Georgia with sponsorship and contributions from the American Egg Board and the Egg Nutrition Center.  Topics included production, packing, marketing, egg functionality and attributes and safety.


The four-day event attracted attendees from the food service and egg industries.


Votes on Agriculture Appropriations


The Housed voted on Thursday September 6th to enter into conference with the Senate over appropriations for the USDA and the FDA.


Current appropriations expire September 30th with a tight legislative schedule before the deadline presuming an extension of funding.


Alabama Producer Subject of Salmonella Recall


According to an FDA release dated September 8th, Gravel Ridge Farms in Coleman County Alabama was the subject to a Class 1 recall.  The FDA issued the recall following traceback to the farm. Reports confirm 14 diagnosed cases of Salmonella Enteritidis.


Affected product was produced between June 25th and September 6th and has a use-by date of October 31st.


Packed eggs were distributed in either 12-egg or 30-egg packs in Atlanta to farmers’ markets and natural foods stores.  In Birmingham, AL, Piggly Wiggly stores marketed the cage-free product.


Decontamination of pasture on which SE positive flocks have been housed would be difficult to biologically impossible.



AEB Motivates Delta to Serve Eggs


Delta Airlines is adding a Protein Box featuring an Incredible Hard-Boiled Egg to its in-flight breakfast menu starting next month. The new menu item will be tested through December on all domestic flights over 900 miles.

The Incredible Egg logo on the in-flight menus, which are projected to net 132 million impressions during the three-month trial period. The idea for the promotion came from  Jim Sumner, president of USAPEEC a very frequent flyer on behalf of the poultry industry.




Australian Eggs Recalled for SE


According to a release by the Australian Associated Press on September 9th the New South Wales, Food Authority in Australia has announced that Glendenning Farms has initiated a recall as a result of Salmonella Enteritidis. To date 23 cases have been diagnosed in the Sydney metropolitan area traced back to “Eggz on the Run” Brand.

Decontamination of housing and equipment is possible with effort, but it is extremely likely that pasture will remain contaminated for a prolonged period. This case demonstrates the danger of operating free-range facilities where flocks can come into contact with pathogens disseminated by wild birds and vermin.

Salmonella Enteritidis is not endemic in the egg industry in Australia according to a report issued by the NSW Government1. Neither this document nor a report from the Australian Egg Council2 indicate vaccination as a recommended practice.

  1. NSW Egg Food Safety Scheme NSW/FA/FT178/1306
  2. Through-chain Salmonella Risk Identification 1RD121A
Free Range Reality


China Intends Claiming $7 Billion from the U.S. over Dumping Duties


China cites a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling in 2016 claiming that it has suffered $7 billion in damages annually as a result of imposition of dumping duties by the U.S. on Chinese-origin machinery, electronics and minerals.  The dispute dates back to 2013 and is based on the U.S. Department Commerce method of calculation of duties referred to as “zeroing” China complains that this approach accentuates the level of anti-dumping duties and was adjudged to be illegal by the WTO.


Adverse rulings against the U.S. by the WTO have prompted the Administration to question the impartiality of the dispute resolution process.  It should however be noted the WTO ruled in favor of the U.S. when authorities in China imposed anti-dumping duties on U.S.-origin broiler parts based on spurious AI claims.


The WTO dispute is being played out against an escalating trade war involving imposition of tariffs on products exported by both nations. Resolution of issues including fair trade, subsidized production by parastatal manufacturers in China and lack of compliance with rules governing intellectual property are issues in dispute.  Announcements of serial tariffs have resulted in disruption of trade between the world’s two largest economies and have caused severe losses by farmers who rely on export of commodities including corn and soybeans to maintain domestic prices.


EGG-NEWS Welcomes OVO-Vision as a Sponsor


OVO-Vision, located in Roermond, the Netherlands is an established provider of integrated production and financial software based on the Microsoft® Dynamics platform adapted for the egg and poultry supply chain.

OVO-Vision is based on the principle of collating and presenting information as an integral system allowing efficiencies in planning, production, tracing and control of costs.

Production software can be expanded to accommodate farms and flocks and can be integrated with feed production. Setup templates can be developed to schedule flock movement, vaccination, health monitoring and other management functions. Production data is entered using a smart phone or tablet and data can be retrieved and presented in both graphic and tabular form.

The software can be used to predict production levels given predetermined parameters and dates to accomplish both short- and long-term planning. Ovo-Vision can be combined with Ovo-Sales to prepare both marketing and financial budgets and to schedule inputs including packaging material, feed ingredients and pullet chicks.

Since the OVO-Vision system is integrated with accounting, it is possible to predict the return from a flock either as a simulation or to record actual performance.

Tracking of product in inventory is incorporated into the system integrated into financial reporting and allowing complete capability for trace-forward and trace-back.

OVO-vision incorporates electronic data integration involving production documentation and business transactions. EDI uses Microsoft dynamics NAV allowing unlimited access to data, documents and transactions. Data can be managed in-house on a company server or in the cloud.

OVO-Vision can be incorporated into the function of both Moba and Staalkat graders to balance production and to optimize efficiency. This is especially important for off-line plants. The software system takes into account customer specifications and labeling in relation to inventory.

Additional information on the OVO-Vision system is available on the company website which can be accessed by clicking onto the logo on the list of sponsors on the welcome page. 


Court Decision Places WOTUS on Hold


According to the Texas Law Blog the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an injunction during the first week of September, setting aside implementation of the WOTUS rule in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Court deferred on extending the injunction to all states. Currently the 2015 WOTUS rule is under suspension in 29 states.


Origin of Listeria Contamination of Vegetables Identified


Greenyard a processor of vegetables in Baja,Hungary, distributed widely in the E.U., has identified the source of Listeria contamination in their plant. Outbreaks have been reported in five E.U. nations and Australia resulting in 54 diagnosed cases with 10 fatalities.

E.U. investigators believe that the problem commenced in 2015 and was responsible for outbreaks of listeriosis in the E.U. attributed to frozen vegetables over three successive years.

According to Greenyard, contamination was detected in a blast freezer. Since Listeria is a psychrophile (cold-resistant bacteria), persistence in a blast freezer is possible but unlikely. Product would have been bagged and cartooned before passing through a blast freezer preventing direct contamination of product. It is considered likely that other locations of infection may exist in the plant including drains and work surfaces.

Officials of the Hungarian Food Chain Safety Office initiated a recall for specific products produced between August 13th 2016 and June 20th 2018. Given that the potentially contaminated vegetables are deep frozen, consumers may be at risk for an extensive period.

Greenyard noted that product currently conforms to a legal level of less than 10 cfu Listeria per gram. The Company maintains that it can achieve this standard by cleaning, disinfection and other procedures monitored by a structured program of sampling. It is noted that in the U.S., there is a zero tolerance for Listeria in any food product.


Cyclospora Outbreak Ended


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak of Cyclospora infection is at an end. The vehicle of infection was apparently Romaine lettuce included in pre-processed salads supplied by Fresh Express to McDonald’s outlets in the mid-West.

Identification of the vehicle of infection was expedited by development of a validated Cyclospora assay technique in early 2018 following three years of development.

A total of 511 confirmed cases were diagnosed with 24 hospitalizations. Cases were diagnosed in sixteen states commencing in May and extending through late July 2018.

The Illinois Department of Health posted an alert on July 12th and the following day McDonald’s stopped selling salads at 3,000 locations in 14 states. The FDA investigation was completed on July 26th, notifying Fresh Express of the presence of Cyclospora in an unused package of salad mix containing lettuce and carrots. The point of contamination was not identified.

The outbreak had further repercussions with Caito Foods having to recall pork and poultry wraps and salads as a result of contaminated Romaine lettuce as an ingredient in their product.

Cyclospora, a protozoan parasite results in recurrent gastrointestinal symptoms unless treated. Asymptomatic carriers may be involved in intrafamilial infection and in food service, emphasizing the need for personal hygiene.


Canada Wavering Over Protection of Dairy Industry


For over 50 years, dairy and poultry farmers in Canada have benefitted from a controlled marketing system. Although the U.S. can export up to $500 million of dairy products duty free to Canada each year, tariffs of up to 300 percent are imposed on quantities above the TRQ.

The economic impact on consumers arising from the protection extended to dairy producers in particular is emerging as an issue in Provincial and Federal politics in Canada. Traditionally dairy producers concentrated in Ontario and Quebec have enjoyed political support to maintain the favored status of the industry. Consumers are however realizing that prices of dairy products are higher than they would otherwise be in a free-enterprise economy.

The shift in political support for controlled marketing may enable Canadian negotiators to make concessions on an important point of contention in NAFTA renegotiation. Resolution of the dairy issue is a deal breaker as emphasized by Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Sonny Perdue and White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow.

Dairy Farmers of Canada representing producers is naturally implacable on concessions. Their political clout has been diluted as evidenced by the participation of Canada in both the CP-TPP free-trade deal with Pacific nations and with the E.U. CETA agreement.

Finalization of the August 27th agreement-in-principle with Mexico has placed greater pressure on Canada to concede on issues including the Chapter 19 dispute resolution procedure and “traditional cultural considerations”. Faced with threat of a 20 percent tariff on auto imports, it is most likely that Canada will agree to modifications to NAFTA as demanded by the U.S.

Realization that the controlled market situation in Canada is not sacrosanct, creates opportunities for increased exports of poultry and eggs to Canada and the possibility of investment by U.S. companies in the Canadian market. Due to the controlled market situation, egg production in Canada is confined to approximately 1,000 individual farmers with minimal integration and with minimal efficiency both in production and packing.

Hard bargaining by the U.S. on the dairy issue may benefit not only U.S. farmers, but also consumers in Canada.


Cracker Barrel Reports on Q4 and FY 2018


In a press release dated September 18th Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. announced results for the 4th Quarter and Fiscal 2018 ending August 3rd 2018.

The following table summarizes the results for the period compared with the values for the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal year (Values expressed as $ x 1,000 except EPS)

4th Quarter Ending.

Aug. 3rd 2018

July 28th 2017

Difference (%)

Sales: (82 percent food)




Gross profit:




Operating income:




Net Income




Diluted earnings per share:




Gross Margin (%)




Operating Margin (%)




Profit Margin (%)




Long-term Debt:




12 Months Trailing:


Return on Assets (%)



Return on Equity (%)



Operating Margin (%)



Profit Margin (%)



Total Assets




Market Capitalization



52-Week Range in Share Price: $141.63 to $179.12

Market Close Tuesday 18th $143.80 (-4.6 percent)

Forward P/E: 15.4 Beta 0.2

For FY 2018 Cracker Barrel generated net earnings of $247.6 million (up 3.5 percent over Q4 FY 2017) on sales of 3.03 billion (up 3.5 percent). EPS increased by 22.9 percent from $8.37 in FY2017 to $10.29 in FY 2018. CBRL is down 9.5 percent YTD.

Cracker Barrel missed revenue expectations of $825 million and EPS of $2.66 resulting in a sell-off. The short of float amounted to 20.4 percent on September 20th.

Cracker Barrel operates 660 locations which generated a 0.4 percent decline in same-store sales. The 3.5 percent lower same store traffic was partly offset by a 3.1 percent increase in transaction partly due to a 2.7 percent average increase in menu prices.

Commenting on the fourth quarter and full fiscal year results, Cracker Barrel President and CEO, Sandra B. Cochran said, "The softer sales trend we saw in May persisted throughout the quarter, leading to fourth quarter results that fell below expectations. Our traffic was challenged, particularly with lighter users and during the dinner daypart, some of which was attributable to our menu and marketing promotion not delivering the anticipated topline traffic and sales. While our results did not meet our expectations, I am confident that our initiatives and plans for fiscal 2019 will drive improved performance."



Newcastle Disease in Southern California


With no sign of resolution, the extended outbreak of Newcastle disease in Southern California has reached approximately 130 cases.  Outbreaks have been confirmed in San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.


Since the initial outbreak in mid-May, authorities in California and the USDA-APHIS have had sufficient time to initiate and complete an epidemiologic evaluation to determine the source of infection, the rate of spread and to provide an indication of their intended action to firstly control and secondly eradicate the disease before commercial flocks are affected. The poultry industry in California would benefit from a detailed report in mid-2019 but appropriate epidemiologic information are needed now.


It is understood that about 9,000 backyard and exhibition birds have been euthanized and premises have been quarantined.  The incidence rate is increasing, confirming that there is effectively no control.  Without knowing the specific epidemiologic factors associated with the 2018 outbreak, resolution of the problem in the intermediate term is unlikely.


As a simple recommendation, owners should be urged to effectively vaccinate their backyard flocks as this will convert a presumably susceptible population to a level of immunity that will inhibit dissemination of virus by whatever means. It is emphasized that vaccination should be implemented by owners and not by state or federal workers since this will result in a repetition of the 1979 END outbreak when flocks broke with Newcastle disease approximately seven days after a mandatory visit to vaccinate birds.


The California Department of Food and Agriculture has issued an advisory to flock owners concerning quarantine of new birds for thirty days.  Appropriate action should be to cease acquiring or selling birds under any circumstances with strict quarantine of flocks.  The stated recommendation to “restrict contact with wild birds, rodents or insects which carry disease organisms” appears to be great on paper but impossible to implement given that many of the flocks are on pasture (or in reality, mud). The suggestion to purchase feed from “clean and dependable supplier” is also applicable although Newcastle disease is not generally regarded as being transmitted through feed despite individual cases in the U.K. during the 1980’s with pigeon paramyxovirus.  If feed were involved in transmission of Newcastle disease in the California outbreak, there would probably be more cases over a shorter time period.


Again, it is emphasized that epidemiologic investigations are required to determine both source of infection and mode of transmission in the specific Southern California END event. An understanding of the epidemiology is necessary to advise commercial farmers of the appropriate steps to take to prevent introduction over and above enhanced structural and operational biosecurity which in most cases are woefully inadequate.


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Dr. Simon M. Shane
Simon M. Shane
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