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What is the Halachah regarding blood-spots found in eggs?

by Rabbi Brun-Kestler

  

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In the past, most eggs came from fertile hens, whose increased hormone levels stimulated more egg production. Of course, fertilized eggs will also, in the right conditions, grow into chickens.

In modern commercial egg operations, this hormone enhancement is achieved (and controlled), by artificial means through the feed, and the eggs themselves are not fertile; they will never develop into chickens.

While in the past, every bloodspot might have signified the beginning of a new embryo ("safek sheretz ha’of"), today’s commercial methods virtually ensure that this is not the case.

It is in light of this modern reality that Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l,1  clarifies that blood spots found in commercially produced eggs do not present any fundamental Kosher problem. With respect to fertile eggs in the past, where a significant doubt existed that the blood might represent a new embryo, it was necessary to throw out the entire egg if it had a bloodspot.2 Today, however, the only concerns are mari'it ayin (the appearance of misconduct) or dam beitzim (a small amount of blood from a broken blood vessel in the hen, which is not forbidden).

While in the past, every bloodspot might have signified the beginning of a new embryo, today's commercial methods virtually insure that this is not the case
As a result, the entire egg is never prohibited and technically  the removal of the blood spot would suffice. Moreover, since the prohibition is not intrinsic to the egg, there is no problem with cooking a single egg in a pot.

Rav Moshe, however, writes that it is a proper practice to dispose of the entire egg even today, as eggs are not expensive and a person does not incur any significant loss. Therefore, the requirement to check each egg remains in effect, as does the requirement to dispose of eggs containing actual blood spots.

Nevertheless, in cases of doubt, difficulty or error, eggs are kosher, even if checking was not properly done; moreover, if blood spots are discovered during or after cooking, there is no problem with the utensils with which they were prepared.

Note: Fertilized eggs are available in the marketplace and are sold at a premium. When purchasing organic or natural eggs, a consumer should be careful to check the carton and/or contact the egg producer.

Consumers wishing to consume fertile eggs should consult a competent Halachic authority for guidelines. Some Kashrut agencies will not certify eggs that are intentionally produced as they were in the past, because of the halachic complexities pertaining to those eggs.

Copied with permission from OUKosher.org.

Footnotes

  • 1. Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 1:36.
  • 2. This is also the reason why a minimum of three eggs were boiled at one time – if one of them had a spot, it would be "batel b’rov" (the non-kosher substance becomes "nullified" in the kosher majority) to the other two.

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Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Kashrut
Laws of Kosher (Jewish dietary laws).