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Scientists Attacked Over Egg Cholesterol Claims

How much cholesterol is there in an egg?

The question has egg producers and University of Western Ontario scientists at each others’ throats.

Egg Farmers of Canada last week issued a furious statement after the scientists published an article saying an egg contains more dietary cholesterol than a fat-laden sandwich from Kentucky Fried Chicken.

EFC called the claim “irresponsible and inaccurate.”

The review, published Nov. 1 in the online version ofThe Canadian Journal of Cardiology, said one egg yolk contains 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol while a KFC Double Down sandwich contains 150 mg.

The Double Down contains two deep-fried chicken breasts, bacon, processed cheese and KFC’s special sauce.

The article calls dietary cholesterol harmful to arteries and says patients at risk of cardiovascular disease should limit their intake to less than 200 mg a day.

EFC says an egg has no more than 195 mg of cholesterol and the 275-mg figure used by the scientists is probably decades old.

Bonnie Cohen, EFC’s marketing and nutrition manager, said the agency conducted an egg nutrient analysis around 2005, using information on Health Canada nutrition labels. It found a Grade A Large egg contained between 190 and 195 mg of dietary cholesterol.

Cohen said the figure used in the study may date back to the days before farmers fed layer hens specially calibrated rations containing a balance of protein, vitamins and minerals.

“It’s certainly not today’s figure,” Cohen said.

She noted KFC’s own web-site lists the Double Down as also containing 540 calories, 30 grams of fat and 1,740 mg of sodium.

Cohen said EFC also objects to the way the article portrays the egg industry.

The review, co-authored by three medical doctors and headed by Dr. J. David Spence, a University of Western Ontario stroke prevention specialist, strongly criticizes the industry for downplaying the risks of cholesterol to human health.

It accuses the “remarkable effectiveness of the sustained propaganda campaign of the egg producers’ lobby” for persuading even health-care professionals that dietary cholesterol is not important.

“Even the Heart and Stroke Foundation has been taken in, quoting directly from the egg marketers’ propaganda in a brochure distributed to British Columbia and Ontario households in February 2010, which is Heart Month!” the authors write.

“It is timely, therefore, to review the evidence that dietary cholesterol is important and that regular consumption of egg yolks cannot be recommended for patients with cardiovascular disease or for those at high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The article does not say people should stop eating eggs. It only advises people with cardiovascular issues to limit their daily egg intake. It also says egg whites are a valuable source of protein.

But Cohen called the remarks “fairly insulting” and suggested Dr. Spence sounds more like an animal rights activist than a scientist.

“I would say he’s an extremist when it comes to eggs specifically,” she said. “There’s a lot of pieces of the research that he’s taken and spun inaccurately.”

Cohen noted the article refers to research suggesting a link between regular egg consumption and diabetes. She said she knows of no research to indicate that. [email protected]

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It’scertainlynot today’sfigure.”

– bonnie cohen, efc

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