To fridge or not to fridge – how should we really store eggs?
In the United States, eggs are usually kept in the fridge, while in Europe and some other parts of the world eggs are not refrigerated. Read on to find out which is the healthiest way to store eggs.
The most dangerous thing about eggs is Salmonella, a bacteria that can be found inside or outside the eggshell. This type of bacteria cause no harm when it lives in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, but when it enters the food supply it can cause serious gastrointestinal diseases and even cause death. Salmonella is especially dangerous for seniors, children and people with weak immune system.
In the 1970s and 1980s, major Salmonella outbreaks occurred in the USA, and eggs was responsible for 77% of them. The rest of the cases were caused by chicken, alfalfa sprouts, and peanut butter. Since then, the infection rates have drastically decreased, as all the necessary efforts on making eggs safer were taken. Anyway, the outbreaks are still possible and occur sometimes.
When Americans travel to Europe, it may seem strange to them that the eggs in the supermarkets are not refrigerated. They are kept alongside canned goods, bakery, spices, etc. In the USA, eggs are usually found in the refrigerated aisle. As it turns out, the European way is right for the European eggs, while the US eggs really need to be refrigerated. The difference is linked to the way that eggs are prepared for consumption.
The US way
In the US, Australia, Japan, and Scandinavian countries, the bacteria that may be found on eggs are treated externally. That means that before being sold, the eggs are washed and sprayed with a special disinfectant. This kills bacteria, including Salmonella, on the shell.
The thing is that while the external bacteria are removed, some may still be present inside the egg. Moreover, washing eggs may kill their protecting layer, and some bacteria may penetrate the shell again.
Refrigerating limits the number of bacteria, which dramatically reduces the risk of getting ill. Moreover, once eggs are refrigerated, they must be kept this way until the consumption – this prevents the condensation from forming on the eggshell. Condensation may create better conditions for bacteria to get inside the egg.
If you eat eggs commercially produced in the United States, Australia, Japan, and Scandinavian countries, they must be kept in a fridge.
The European way
Of course, it's done another way in Europe. Most Europeans don't refrigerate eggs, and it's also right.
In the 1980s, Europe also experienced serious Salmonella epidemic, but they found another decision. European countries implemented new regulations for vaccination and sanitation of hens. They started killing the infection in the first place. Today, washing eggs in forbidden in European Union, as it may destroy the protecting layer of the shell.
So, the eggs commercially produced in Europe don't need to be refrigerated. They are only recommended to be kept cool (not in a fridge) to avoid condensation. The natural protecting layer can defend European eggs from bacteria for up to three weeks.
The way you should store eggs depends on the country, but if you are not sure about how they were produced, just keep them in the fridge. Note that it's a bad idea to keep eggs in a fridge door, as the eggs will experience rapid change of temperature every time you open the fridge, which will increase the risk of infections.
Which way of storing eggs do you prefer? Was this information new for you? Do you have something to add or discuss?
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