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Caption: Heartland Eggs come from chickens fed on health-food chicken feed.FDA says egg claim may be crackedBY BILL LAITNERFree Press Health WriterIt could be an egg lover's dream:Eggs from hens on health-food chicken feed.They come with a tiny red heart stamped on each shell. And here's a switch. They won't raise our cholesterol, claims the company taht sells them.For sure, Heatland's Best eggs will raise the grocery budget. They're rolling into Detroit area A&P, Farmer Jack and Meijer supermarkets this week at prices approaching $2 a dozenDetroit follows Grand Rapids and Cincinnati, which last month got their first shipments of these eggs, from hens that don't go jogging - not yet - but do eat a "secret, low-fat diet of very good things like sea kelp, rice bran, alfalfa meal and vitamin A," said Eric Slutsky, spokesman for the parent company in Pennsylvania.The chickens' feed gets a supplement of canola oil, a favorite of cardiologists and a far cluck from the beef scraps added to regular chicken feed."Our eggs contain roughly the same cholesterol as other eggs. The difference is the way the eggs interact with the body. When they're eaten with a low-fat diet, they will not raise your cholesterol," said Slutsky.The company's sales literature goes further.Although packages make no such claims, letters sent to Grand Rapids area doctors said that "clinical tests" of people eating 12 Heartland's Best eggs a week, as part of a low-fat diet, "showed significant reductions" in blood cholesterol levels, the same reductions as a control group on a low-fat diet with almost no eggs. The letter invites doctors to call a toll-free "medical hot line" and is signed by a doctor, the company's medical director - much like new product ads sent to doctors from drug companies. Flyers going to supermarket managers cite research at Cornell and the Medical College of Pennsylvania.But a top FDA food safety official in Washington said the company had submitted no data backing the test claims.Ray Gill, deputy director of compliance, FDA Center for Food Safety in Washington, said that on Nov. 1, the president of CR Eggs Inc. sent a brief letter to an FDA investigator "advising us of his plans to market these eggs, saying the kelp used in the feed has no reported adverse effects. There's nothing before us in the way of tests. In other words, we don't know anything about this product."We can't stop a company fromSee EGGS, Page 2.
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