Why are Japan’s eggs orange and so delicious?

file photo
file photo

Why are Japan’s eggs orange and so delicious?

by Eddie Marczewski
Stripes Okinawa

When you move to Japan, you may find a peculiar sight when you crack open an egg for breakfast — an orange yolk. You'll also notice many restaurants serve eggs raw over rice.

Why are the eggs in Japan orange and is it safe to consume them raw?

First, the color is different than what you’re used to back home because the chickens in Japan are fed a highly nutritious feed which may include either carotene, yellow flower petals or carrot powder.

And, yes, eggs in Japan are safe to consume without cooking. This is because Japan follows a very strict egg protocol which farmers adhere to. Once you’ve been in Japan for a while and have waited at red lights to cross a little street, blinked your lights to other drivers to say thank you, watched the owner of a car drive out of a dealer’s lot with 2-3 workers in suits bowing, seen the trainman pointing the trains direction for safety, police cars with their lights flashing all the time, onsen with little fish that clean your feet, cow owners massaging their cattle, and trains that are 99 percent on-schedule, you’ll know the country is serious about its rules.

Egg farmers use technology to neutralize salmonella before the eggs reach your table, according to the Japanese Poultry Association. The process includes safe production, washing of the eggs and strict requirements for egg selection.

There is also contact tracing for contamination, so all eggs come from the same farm as their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Additionally, for disease control, farms in all the prefectures are near each other and close to major roadways.

The farms also have strict rules on who can enter the premises and precautions are taken to keep insects, wild birds and animals out. Workers are also required to wear special uniforms while working in the facilities.

After the eggs have been laid, they are collected and sent off for testing. They are checked for defects with a sophisticated machine. If the eggs don’t meet the standards, they are sold with labeling saying they cannot be eaten raw. Japanese eggs are also packaged maintaining the high standards of the Japanese Poultry Association.

The average Japanese person eats about 320 eggs per year, according to the International Egg Commission. The demand for eggs in Japan is so high that the poultry population is almost equal to the human population of 120 million residents. With eggs that are farmed with strict standards and marked for taste, it’s no wonder that eggs here are delicious, nutritious and a popular addition to many meals.

Expiration date meaning 
Each producer of eggs lists the expiration date for flavor, not for when they must be eaten. Further, this expiration date is for when the egg should be eaten raw. After that date passes you can still eat the egg, however, it needs to be fully cooked.

Commissary vs. local
At the military commissary you can purchase local Japan eggs for about $2.40 for 10 large eggs.  American eggs cost more now because of shipping costs.  You’ll be happily surprised by the taste of the local eggs, whether cooked or raw.

Two Popular Egg dishes  
Deviled eggs

Boiled eggs cut in half. Then the yolk taken out and mixed with mayonnaise, mustard, relish, salt and pepper.  Mixed as a soft creamy egg and put back into the two halves of the eggs, topped with paprika.

Tamago kake Gohan

This is a delicious and simple dish that consists of steamed white rice topped with a raw Japanese egg. Easy to make fun to eat.

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