Celebrating the chicken egg (the conventional table egg) for its unparalleled importance in human nutrition has been a ritual since 1996. For centuries, eggs have played a major role in feeding families around the globe. They are an unbeatable package when it comes to versatility and top quality protein at a very affordable price. Eggs are one of nature’s highest quality sources of protein and indeed contain many of the key ingredients for life. Despite these and many more benefits associated with eating of eggs, the consumption of eggs have generally been low in most countries of the world. The International Egg Commission in her conference in Vienna in 1996, agreed that a day be set aside every year to celebrate World Egg Day to create awareness on the general benefits of eating eggs. Consequently, the second Friday in the month of October was agreed upon as the World Egg Day.
In Nigeria, the celebration of the day did not gain much acceptance until recently when the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) decided to deliberately intensify the campaign for increased egg consumption by putting together some activities to mark the event. Although this was largely influenced by the recurrent “egg glut” plague in the poultry industry.
The 2020 World Egg Day was celebrated on Friday, 9th October with the theme “Eat Eggs Today and Every Day”. In his message to poultry farmers and Nigerians in general, the National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Mr Ezekiel Ibrahim Mam encouraged all Nigerians to always eat eggs in order to get the nutritional and health benefits that come with egg consumption. Mr. Mam who has been in the poultry farming business for over 4 decades encouraged farmers not to give up on the business of producing eggs for the ever growing Nigerian population despite the challenges that the industry is facing at the moment. He called on government to come to the aid of farmers.
“The business of feeding the nation is not an easy task that cannot be accomplished on individual basis. I call on government to support the poultry industry by reducing interest rates on loans, reducing taxes on our products, and channeling of a large chunk of the subsidy removed from oil to agriculture and particularly livestock production. This will go a long way in boosting food production to feed the growing Nigerian population”
In his lecture during a webinar organized by VD & S Farmers’ center, Epe Lagos, the chairman Nutrition Society of Nigeria Lagos state, Professor Oluwatosin Adu highlighted the benefits of eating eggs on daily basis. The professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at the Lagos state university while speaking on the topic, Egg; Much More than the Perfect Protein, stated that eggs are the gold standard for protein against which other sources of protein are compared or valued. Compared to other animal sources of protein namely fish, meat and milk, eggs hold the highest potential in terms of availability, affordability, preparation time, and health benefits. The erudite scholar went further to state that in addition to excellent protein, a small size egg has 13 vitamins, 11 minerals, all the 9 essential amino acids, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids as well as 2 carotenoids. These nutrients are needed by everyone at every stage of life. For infants and children, eggs are one of the best food sources because they contain nutrients which help in physical growth and brain development. They are also needed by pregnant women and lactating mothers because they provide nutrients to help the baby grow and develop in the womb and are known to improve birth outcomes, breast milk composition and boost the child’s brain development.
On the myths surrounding the risks of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and increased risk of prostate cancer associated with egg consumption by adults, Professor Adu debunked such claims stating that the myths have been busted long ago. He stated that the 212 milligrams of cholesterol contained in egg is High Density cholesterol that is not harmful to the body but instead work to change the Low Density cholesterol in the body which is harmful to a subtype that is not as strongly associated with increased risk of heart disease.
“Current research has shown that eating eggs can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people. Despite containing cholesterol, eggs contain high density level of cholesterol which is called ‘good’ cholesterol. Research shows that people with higher levels of HDL have reduced risk of heart disease”
The nutrition expert ended by calling on everyone regardless of age and class to imbibe the practice of eating an egg a day alongside fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole and minimally processed foods which are known to be healthy for the heart. He called on medical practitioners and other health experts to increase the awareness on the importance of egg consumption especially in children aged 6 – 60 months.
In Ogun State, this year World Egg Day was a week-long celebration as the state chapter of PAN in the various zones of Ijebu, Ifo, and Remo took the egg consumption awareness campaign to schools, hospital, correctional centers, and orphanage homes where eggs were distributed to pupils, patients, inmates, and staff of the various institutions visited. In Ijebu zone, some of the schools that benefited from the visit include Saint Anthony Nursery and Primary school Ijebu Ode, Baptist primary school Ogbogbo, AD Dawali group of schools Ijari, and Imowo united school Ijebu Ode. The team also visited Eruobodo homes for special children in Ijebu Ode.
In a chat with Livestonews, the Vice Chairman of PANOG, Ijebu zone, Alhaj Femi Gafar said the association has taken this year’s campaign about the benefits of eating eggs to schools and persons who can hardly afford eggs, bearing in mind that these categories of persons also deserve to eat eggs. The managing director of Gafo Integrated Farms, Ijebu Ode called on government to sustain the school feeding programme and take a step further by including eggs on the daily menu for the children. He called on philanthropists to always donate eggs to the less privilege homes so that the inmates can also be part of the benefits of eating eggs. Earlier in a broadcast on Ogun Television station which was monitored by Livestonews, the secretary of Poultry Association of Nigeria, Ogun state, Mr Oludare Kuforiji called on all to imbibe the culture of eating an egg everyday in order to get the nutritional benefits of eggs and stay healthy.
Oyo state chapter of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PANOY) capped the 2020 World Egg day celebration in a grand style. The event which was held at the association’s secretariat in Ibadan was attended by the Vice president of PAN south west Dr Bode Adetoyi, the Ekiti state Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, among other dignitaries. Highlights of the event include commissioning of an 18 seater bus for the purpose of egg promotion in the state and the presentation of Egg Ambassador award to Dr and Mrs Adebayo Faleke of Fresh FM Ibadan. In a presentation on the benefits of eggs, the president, Livestock Industry Foundation for Africa LIFA, Dr Stephen Adejoro emphasized that the Immunoglobulin IgY produced by chicken in the egg is effective in conferring immunity on humans and offering protection from some infections including COVID-19. Dr Adejoro stated that research has shown that recent technology uses chicken antibodies extracted from egg to offer instant protection against COVID-19 in a range of applications from chewable tablets to coated air filters and masks.
“Eggs constitute a good source of beneficial antibodies as immunized hens could lay large number of eggs in a period of time containing high concentration of antibodies in their yolk. These antigen specific antibodies have numerous biomedical applications to be used in immunodiagnostics, proteomics, and in immunotherapy for combating infectious diseases”
The poultry consultant with over 40 years experience stated that the major limitation facing egg consumption in Nigeria is the lack of consumers’ ideas on diverse ways of preparing palatable and acceptable egg recipe that will dominate homegrown menu and restaurant. He called on government to incorporate egg consumption as a palliative food medicine for COVID-19 while encouraging the general public to consume egg through a diverse innovative recipe that appeal to individual tastes.
PANOY earlier in the week took time to visit hospitals, schools, correctional centers, and orphanage homes to celebrate the 2020 World Egg Day with students and inmates.