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Egg shortages, high prices fuel false claims online. Here’s what’s really going on.

A shopper checks eggs before he purchases at a grocery store in Glenview, Ill., Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) A shopper checks eggs before he purchases at a grocery store in Glenview, Ill., Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

A shopper checks eggs before he purchases at a grocery store in Glenview, Ill., Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone February 8, 2023

The price of eggs has spiked over the past year, more so than any single food item.

That’s largely because of an avian flu outbreak that killed more than 43 million egg-laying hens last year, hampering the egg supply and driving up prices for consumers.

But some social media users have been more conspiratorial, trying to pin the blame on commercial chicken feed, government plots to control the food supply and Bill Gates’ investments in farmland and fake meat.

Here’s a look at some of the claims about eggs we’ve tackled in recent weeks.

Commercial chicken feed isn’t being sabotaged

Backyard chicken owners have been sharing posts on social media claiming their hens are laying fewer eggs, or none at all — and they’re blaming commercial chicken feed.

Some are saying it’s all part of a conspiracy to keep people from producing their own eggs and forcing them to buy eggs at the grocery store, where the price has skyrocketed. Others have tied it to a wider conspiracy to control the food supply to control the population. Fox News host Tucker Carlson gave such theories a boost with a segment on backyard chickens.

There’s no evidence that any major feed suppliers have changed formulas. Experts we spoke with cited a variety of factors that may hinder backyard hens from laying eggs, including improper nutrition, infection and stress. We rated False the claim that chickens have stopped laying eggs and their chicken feed is to blame.

RNA isn’t being added to chicken feed and lowering egg production

A TikTok video claimed that a synthetic version of RNA, a naturally occurring nucleic acid present in all living cells, is being added to commercial chicken feed and causing hens to lay fewer eggs.

The claim is False. There’s no evidence that synthetic RNA is being added to chicken feed, multiple experts and officials told us. It’s not an approved ingredient. Meanwhile, there may be multiple reasons for sudden egg production drops, such as management mistakes, improper chicken nutrition, parasite infection, disease and stress, experts said. 

A grocery store in Cheverly, Md., posts a sign to apologize for the increased price of their eggs on Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A 700% spike in egg prices? Not quite

Egg prices have risen dramatically in the U.S., more than other foods. But they haven’t risen as high as 700%, as one social media post claimed in January. We rated that Mostly False.

Overall food costs rose 10.4% year-over-year in December 2022, but eggs had the biggest price increase of any item. Egg prices increased 60%, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Bill Gates is not causing an egg shortage to sell you fake eggs

We’ve debunked numerous claims that Microsoft Corp. co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is involved in schemes to harm the public, such as adding vaccines to the food supply, using vaccines to reduce the population, or trying to block out the sun.

A more recent claim falsely claims that Gates is responsible for the U.S. egg shortage.

Yes, Gates has bought a lot of farmland, and invested in meat alternatives, but he’s also been a proponent of chicken farms. An avian flu outbreak, not Gates, is largely responsible for egg shortages and higher prices.

No evidence fire that killed 100,000 hens part of government plot

A Jan. 28 fire at Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut, killed about 100,000 hens. Some people claimed that the fire is part of a government plot to destroy the food supply and "starve us into compliance."

We found no evidence to support the false claim, which mirrors past baseless claims that fires or accidents at food plants in the U.S. are part of an intentional plan by government leaders to create a shortage.

As of Feb. 8, the Hillandale Farms fire’s cause was still under investigation, according to a statement on its website.

Eggs are not causing sudden blood clots

An alarming headline circulated in social media in January, saying that "Scientists warn eggs are causing thousands of people to ‘suddenly’ form blood clots." We rated that claim False.

The headline originated in an article on the website NewsPunch, which cited a new study by the Cleveland Clinic. The study’s authors, however, told PolitiFact the article misrepresented the findings of their 2017 study. 

That research found that taking supplemental choline, a nutrient found in egg yolks and meat, increased the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It did not show a link between egg consumption and those events, the researchers said. A more recent study found no increased risk from egg consumption.

PolitiFact writers Samantha Putterman, Sara Swann and Ciara O’Rourke contributed to this report.

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Egg shortages, high prices fuel false claims online. Here’s what’s really going on.