Is blood in an egg bad? Does it mean the chicken was ill? Are there any dangers to eating what’s known as “meat spots” in eggs?
I think we all remember the first time we cracked open an egg and found a small spot of blood inside. It’s a little gross, I think everyone will agree that no one wants blood in their breakfast.
The good news, however, is that finding a spot of blood in an egg does not mean the chicken had health issues. Also, contrary to popular belief it doesn’t mean the egg was fertilized, and most importantly it doesn’t present any health risk to you.
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Eww, Why Is There Blood in My Egg?
First of all, to be completely clear the small blood spots are exactly that - drops of blood.
They’re usually found on the surface of the yolk, but can also be seen in the white of the egg.
Two of the most common reasons I hear is that it must mean the chicken has some kind of health issue, or that it’s an indication that the egg was fertilized.
Neither of these reasons or causes are true.
Blood spots happen due to one of the delicate tiny blood vessels in a chicken’s ovaries - of which they have lots - breaking during the egg-laying process.
If the blood spot in the yolk, it means it happened when the egg was released from the follicle. The follicle is a fluid-filled sac containing loads of small blood vessels.
If it’s in the white of the egg, it means the blood vessel broke and bled into the egg after it was released into the oviduct.
Is It Safe to Eat an Egg With a Blood Spot?
I can assure you it’s absolutely, completely safe to eat an egg with a blood spot.
Don’t just take my word for it though. Healthline, the Egg Safety Board, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all say that eggs with blood spots are safe to eat - as long as you cook the egg properly, of course.
Most people remove the blood spot, and I can’t blame them. All you have to do is scoop it out, so you may as well if it makes you feel a little uneasy.
The Difference Between Blood Spots and Meat Spots
There are two types of spots found in eggs; blood spots and meat spots.
Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them.
- Blood spots, as I’ve already explained, are tiny spots of blood that are attached to the egg as a result of a burst blood vessel during the laying process.
- Meat spots are small bits of tissue from the chicken’s organs or small specks of blood like blood spots.
Meat spots are usually brown in color, not red like blood spots. They are typically larger than blood spots, and not the same shape. They are formed by similar “accidents” during the egg-laying process.
According to the Egg Safety Center, both meat and blood spots are fine to eat as long as the egg is cooked properly.
If the thought of eating it puts you off, as it does for a lot of people, just simply remove the spot with the tip of a knife. Simple.
How Common Are Eggs With Blood Spots?
This depends on where you get your eggs. I eat fresh eggs laid by my chickens, so I see blood spots a lot more often than someone that only eats shop bought eggs.
This is because egg producers see blood spots as a defect. They know that consumers do not want to find a spot when cracking open their eggs, so they discard eggs that have a blood spot before they find their way to the supermarket shelves.
They’re able to do this because they “candle” all eggs before passing them for sale. Candling is the process of shining a bright light into an egg so you can see if there’s anything inside that shouldn’t be there.
A few still slip through though. I know I’ve seen at least two shop-bought eggs with spots in, and I’ve heard other people mentioning it.
As for how common it is in fresh eggs, I’d estimate only about 2-5% of eggs have either a blood or meat spot in.
It’s not a bad thing to find blood in an egg. It doesn’t mean the hen was injured or sick, it’s not harmful to you in any way and doesn’t make the egg bad.
It’s simply the result of a blood vessel rupturing during the egg-laying process. It’s pretty rare, especially in shop-bought eggs, you could almost consider yourself lucky to find one!
Image credits - Photo by Karina Zhukovskaya and Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Blood spots in eggs - EggSafetyCenter.com
Is the appearance of eggs related to food safety? - fsis.usda.gov