Egg Rationing in America has officially begun

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In the land of plenty, rationing is just not what people expect to encounter. So it is with some shock that shoppers are discovering eggs are being rationed in H-E-B grocery stores as well as in some retail outlets this week. The reason? The Avian Flu epidemic continues to affect egg-laying hens across the country. About 46 million birds have been destroyed in an effort to stem the outbreak, 80 percent of them laying hens.

To counter the temporary egg shortage, the H-E-B outlet has limited purchase of its eggs to three dozen per customer. The national retail chain has made the decision in order to limit commercial buying and large customers clearing the shelves of eggs. Other retailers are being affected as well. A popular burger outlet, Whattaburger, with 700 outlets across the country has limited its egg-based breakfasts to six hours daily from 12. And the cost of cartons of eggs and egg whites has nearly doubled since the flu outbreak. There is no clear indicator of when the flu may be entirely managed, although some sources say it should be cleared by the end of the summer. However, that means a shortage of eggs is quite possible, and eggs may have to be imported to cover the shortage. Recently, the USDA placed an emergency clearance on eggs imported from Holland. The shortage is also causing the price of eggs to rise from just over $1.00 for a cartoon to more than $2 per carton.

The Avian Flu has 16 different strains of which two can affect people. All known cases of the flu in humans have involved direct contact with either live or dead birds infected with the disease. In this round of Avian flu both chickens and turkeys have been impacted.

Eggs are a particularly nutritious food source, especially for protein. At one time, it was thought that the cholesterol in eggs might be a problem; however, we now know that is not the case, and people can eat an egg every day without concern. Eggs are a versatile food product that can be eaten alone or blended in any number of other foods. Eggs also contain iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids. Most people can digest them easily, making them a good choice for finicky eaters and when people are ill. Eggs should always be eaten cooked.

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