Whole eggs or egg substitute? What are you really scooping onto your plate from a restaurant buffet?
With assistance from researchers at West Virginia University, talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz now has the answer.
Jacek Jaczynski, associate professor of food safety in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, was contacted by The Dr. Oz Show in December about the difference between shell eggs and egg products in restaurant buffets’ scrambled eggs.
“We were specifically asked to test scrambled eggs from several restaurant buffets to determine if they were made from whole shell eggs or egg substitute,” Jaczynski said.
Jaczynski and research assistant Sarah Beamer collected samples from breakfast buffets at two national chain restaurants in Morgantown and ran a series of tests to determine their protein and moisture content. As a control, they ran similar tests on whole shell eggs, Egg Beaters, and pasteurized liquid eggs purchased from a local grocery store.
“Protein and moisture content are pretty much fixed in shell eggs,” Jaczynski said. “Scientifically speaking, they are independent of chicken feed, which to some degree can affect fat content and its composition, making protein and moisture content the most likely indicators of a shell egg or egg substitute used as a base ingredient in restaurant buffets’ scrambled eggs.”
When comparing the test results of the restaurant samples to those of the controls, the researchers found quite a difference.
“The scrambled eggs made of whole shell eggs contained the most protein and least moisture, while the scrambled eggs made of Egg Beaters and pasteurized liquid eggs had the highest moisture and lowest protein,” Beamer said. “Both restaurant samples yielded results that showed moisture content falling somewhere between scrambled eggs made of whole eggs and Egg Beaters or pasteurized liquid eggs with protein content equal to that of the latter.”
Jaczynski and Beamer note the results suggest the base ingredient for the tested scrambled eggs from the two restaurant buffets are liquid eggs containing added ingredients that are unlikely protein based and most likely carbohydrates.
The food science and technology laboratory in the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences tests numerous animal-derived food products ranging from seafood to eggs. The lab has developed patented and patent-pending technologies to improve our food supply. The lab also handles foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, providing research opportunities to graduate, undergraduate, and post-graduate students.
A segment with their findings will air during The Dr. Oz Show on Thurs., Jan. 19, 2012, at 4 p.m.
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.