Egg powder a low-cost alternative?
In areas where malnutrition is part of everyday life, however, eggs are hardly available. Inexpensive egg powder could therefore be an alternative. Due to its minimal water content, it has a significantly longer shelf life as well as a relatively high nutrient density. In addition, it is easier to store and transport than eggs, and it can be easily added to food. This makes it interesting as a potential dietary supplement.
However, despite its widespread industrial use, little has been known about its nutritional quality. To fill this knowledge gap, the team led by Somoza conducted an extensive comparative study. Using state-of-the-art food chemistry analysis methods, the scientists determined the nutrient profiles of three batches each of industrially produced, pasteurized whole egg and egg powder processed from
it and compared them on a dry matter basis.
Egg powder not contaminated by heavy metals
“As our analyses showed, the drying process did not lead to an accumulation of the heavy metals cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury,” reports Philip Pirkwieser, PhD chemist at LSB and lead author of the study. In addition, the research team observed little or no loss in total fat content, essential amino acid content, impor-tant trace elements or carotenoids. Likewise, vitamin E (alpha- and gamma-tocopherol) and vitamin B12 concentrations remained nearly constant. However, vitamin A (retinol) levels decreased by 14 percent. The amount of vital omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids decreased by an average of 39 and 61 percent, respectively.
“Despite the small loss of retinol, egg powder is a valuable source of vitamin A. Sub-Saharan African regions in particular could benefit from this. This is because vitamin A deficiency is widespread there and leads to a high prevalence of vision problems,” explains Veronika Somoza. A daily intake of egg powder equivalent to one medium-sized egg is sufficient to cover 24 percent of a child’s daily requirement for vitamin A, 100 percent for vitamin E, 61 percent for selenium and 22 percent for zinc, depending on age. This is very positive. If it were possible to increase the content of essential fatty acids and vitamin A, the great potential of egg powder as a
food supplement could be fully exploited, the LSB director says. One way to achieve this could be through chicken feed enriched with these fatty acids and vitamins.
The study authors note, however, that while the commercially available spray drying process with an inlet temperature of 160 °C and an outlet between 80-90 °C proves to be suitable for most nutrients such as vitamin E and vitamins of the B group or the essential amino acids, the significant decrease in concentration of unsaturated fatty acids shows that the process should be optimized in this respect.