Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eggs & Blood Spots

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Although most people are in the habit of discarding an egg which is found to contain a bloodspot, this procedure may actually be quite unnecessary. The practice of checking eggs before using them goes back to the days when eggs were the result of fertilized hens. Today, eggs are no longer produced in this manner. The mass produced eggs which are found in supermarkets today are the product of hormonal and artificial stimulation and not the result of the natural reproductive process of chickens. Manipulating chickens in this way can result in a hen producing a new egg every single day making the process extremely profitable.

Click here to read moreThese mass produced eggs are often referred to as "commercial eggs" or "battery eggs" and will never develop into chickens. As such, the "bloodspots" found in these eggs are not truly blood. The only eggs which are produced by natural fertilization today are clearly marked as "natural" or "organic" on the package and are significantly more expensive. When one finds blood in naturally fertilized eggs, the blood is not kosher and must be discarded. As we will see, this may not be true for battery eggs.

The reason that a naturally-produced egg must be discarded if blood is found is out of a concern that the blood is actually the beginnings of an embryo.[1] There is a difference of opinion among the halachic authorities where in the egg the blood must be found in order to render it non-kosher. According to some authorities, an egg is only forbidden if blood is found in the yolk of the egg, while other authorities forbid an egg in which blood is found in the white part of the egg. It is customary to comply with both views, and therefore one who find blood anywhere in a naturally-produced egg must discard it.[2]

According to most authorities, even battery eggs should be inspected for blood spots. In the event that blood is found, however, one need only discard the actual bloodspot, while the rest of the egg may be used.[3] While some authorities recommend discarding the entire egg,[4] if doing so would present a significant financial loss, it is unnecessary.[5]

It is interesting to note that there a number of authorities who rule that one is not required to check battery eggs for blood at all. In fact, according to this approach, a battery egg may be consumed in its entirety, along with the bloodspot.[6] Most other authorities, however, rule that one is required according to rabbinical law to discard the blood found in battery eggs even though it should essentially be permitted.[7] The most efficient method to check an egg for blood is to crack it into a glass. Doing so allows one to easily examine the egg from all sides.

Although examining battery eggs for blood may not be truly halachically required, most authorities maintain that the original custom of checking eggs should be preserved. That being said, if for whatever reason a battery egg was used without having been checked for blood, it may still be eaten.[8] So too, any foods which came into contact with a battery egg which was not checked may be eaten as well.[9]

Some individuals have the custom to set aside a pot exclusively for boiling eggs, in order to distance themselves from any possible kashrut concerns related to blood found in eggs. Others make sure to always cook at least three eggs at a time. This latter custom ensures that in the event that an egg was found to contain blood, it would have no effect on the kosher status of the other eggs. This is due to a concept in halacha known as "batel b'rov", which teaches that one non-kosher item is often nullified by the kosher majority, rendering even the questionable item kosher.[10]

It is permitted to forgo checking battery eggs if doing so would impose significant inconvenience or difficulty. For instance, a chef who is preparing an egg-based dish for hundreds of people need not check every egg. In such a situation one may rely on the halachic principle of "chazaka" that most eggs do not contain bloodspots.[11] One may also purchase frozen or powdered eggs even if they were likely not examined for bloodspots.[12] An egg which was used in a food item and was later found to have contained blood has no effect on the kosher status of the food.[13] So too, the kosher status of one's utensils are unaffected if they were used with eggs which were found to contain bloodspots.[14]


[1] Chullin 64b
[2] Rema Y.D. 66:2, Aruch Hashulchan Y.D. 66:15-16
[3] Y.D. 66:7, Igrot Moshe Y.D. 1:36
[4] Teshuvot V'hanhagot 1:821, 2:384
[5] Igrot Moshe Y.D. 1:36
[6] Shach Y.D. 66:12,14
[7] Gra Y.D. 66:12
[8] Rema Y.D. 66:8
[9] Aruch Hashulchan 66:32
[10] Teshuvot V'hanhagot 2:384
[11] Rema Y.D. 66:8, Vayevarech David 2:92
[12] Har Tzvi Y.D. 73
[13] Rema Y.D. 66:4, Aruch Hashulchan 66:27,32
[14] Yechave Daat 3:57, Igrot Moshe O.C. 3:61

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