03-05 September 2017 | John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh University

Quality of Eggs and Egg Products (WG 4)

The WG4 was created early in 1963 as part of the committee N°4 dedicated to “A study of quality standards for eggs and poultry meat” with Dr W. Rauch as chairman. The egg component, however was not very active until 1981 when the WPSA Netherland Branch set up an European meeting on egg quality jointly with the meat quality meeting. The exploration of the minutes from the EU WPSA branch revealed little activity for egg quality sector for the period before 1980. However, the British national branch of WPSA in association with the British Poultry Science journal and the British Egg Marketing Board were already active in organizing symposia on egg quality (1967 in Harpers Adams college with Prof. A.S. Parkes as chairman, proceeding published in 1968 by Carter, T.C), on egg formation and production (meeting in 1971 published in 1972 with Freeman, B.M. and Lake, P.E., Eds) and on the economics of egg production (symposium in 1974, published in 1975).

Following a request by Spelderholt Institute of Poultry Research, the Working Group No. 4 chaired by A. Oosterwoud organized the first Symposium on egg quality under the hospice of WPSA in Beekbergen in May 1981 (36 papers were presented). At this time, eggshell quality was still the high priority and not only for P.C.M. Simons! Objectives of the WG4 were to develop international coordination of research on internal quality of egg and to contribute to a more joint action.

The UK branch took over the organisation of the egg quality symposium in September 1985 in collaboration with WG4. The proceeding of this symposium was published in 1987 with R.G. Wells and C.G. Belyavin as editors (Butterworths, London). The main topics were the nutritive values of egg, the egg quality assessment, the biological basis of egg quality and the control of egg quality through genetic, environment or nutrition. The third symposium on egg quality was combined with the IX European symposium on meat quality and took place at the University of Hohenheim in August 1989, with Dr S. Scholtyssek as chairman. Six sessions were planned on control of egg quality through genetic, nutrition, disease and medical treatments but also on technological treatments and hygienic control of egg product factories. Enrichment of egg fatty acid, the cholesterol issue but also influence of alternative systems of housing were underlined during this meeting. The chairman of the 1980 decade, A. Oosterwoud, again used the opportunity of the Spelderholt anniversary to organize the 4th symposium in Beekbergen. During this meeting Prof S. Solomon was nominated as chairwoman of the WG4 and keep the position until the end of the 20th century! Y. Nys took over the charge for the first decade of the 21th century.
Egg quality meetings have continued until now to be regularly organized every two years in combination with the symposium on meat quality reflecting a nice collaboration between WG4 and 5.

The meetings take place in various parts of Europe:























St Brieuc







Czech Rep.













Attendance is generally 80 to 130 scientists for the egg part and a large number of communications are published in paper proceedings and/or CD rom. The 6 to 8 sessions are introduced by reviews followed by oral communications and posters. The topics of the thematic sessions are relatively constant and concern the following areas:
Chemistry of egg components, effect of nutrition, genetic, production factors, environment on egg quality, hygienic control of egg quality, egg products, egg functional properties, advances in egg processing technology.

In the nineties, in addition to the classical factors controlling the egg quality the following topics were underlined: nutritional values including enrichment in unsaturated fatty acids, but also the eggshell quality and microbiology of egg. Egg quality assessment also has been a popular subject and has been stimulated more recently by the development of non-invasive techniques. For the last ten years, the interest on the impact of alternative housing systems on egg quality has been largely stimulated by the new EU regulation on production system taking into account the hen welfare. Finally, the recent development of molecular genomics and sequencing of the hen genome has boosted identification of a large number of egg proteins and allowed studies on novel biological activity of these new egg components.

The main activity of WG4 has been therefore to stimulate exchange between European scientists and representatives of the industry even if the interaction with the egg product sector was rather limited. Some of the WG4 members have also been involved in European networks. Two EU streps Eggdefence (2001-2004) and Rescape (2006-2009) have stimulated the research of more than 10 Europeans teams with the objectives of proposing solutions to maintain high hygienic quality of eggs in alternative egg production system. In addition a Cost network coordinated by R. Huopalahti, R. Lopez-Fandino, M. Anton and R. Schade has favoured the development of network on egg quality. In 2007 this consortium published the excellent book “Bioactive Egg components” (Springer Verlag). It is obvious that such network is a prerequisite for developing research on egg and we hope that new opportunities will be available in the near future to pursue research in this area which is regularly growing throughout the world and in particular in Asia and developing countries.

Further details of Working Group can be obtained from the current Chairman:
Prof M. Bain

E-mail: Maureen.Bain@glasgow.ac.uk