Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

Americans – why do you keep refrigerating your eggs?

I know when I am going to incubate fertile eggs I cannot wash them. This will remove a invisible film that protects the embryo/chick from infections from bacteria, mold, and fungus. It also helps the egg stay moist. It makes sense that washing an egg would actually make it more prone to contamination. Also eggs can stay fertile for up to a month if kept at the proper temperature, not too cold like the fridge but not too warm like 70 degrees or warmer. Most American’s before the industrial grid and refrigeration knew they could keep their unwashed eggs from their backyard or store for months if properly stored at the right temperature in our root cellars or food cupboards. You know why America washes their eggs and refrigerates them? Because someone is making big bucks selling those industrial egg washers!  

The U.S. is one of the only countries on Earth that keeps chicken eggs in cold storage. But why?

One of the most common health risks, when it comes to eggs, is posed by Salmonella bacteria. There are really only two ways Salmonella can get at an egg: the first is to contaminate the egg externally, on the surface of its outer shell. The second is to spread from the inside. The former occurs after the egg has been laid, most commonly by coming into contact with feces containingSalmonella bacteria. The latter can occur if the egg develops in the reproductive tract of aSalmonella-infected hen.

Research has shown that Salmonella-infected eggs stored at room temperature for periods longer than three weeks tend to become overrun by bacteria in numbers far greater than those stored at colder temperatures. Given this insight, you might assume that Americans store their eggs in the fridge to extend their shelf life, or to lower the risk of bacterial contamination, and you’d be right on both counts.

But then, maybe the question should really be posed the other way around: Given the sanitary benefits of refrigeration, why don’t other countries ship, package, and store their eggs at cold temperatures, like we do in the U.S.? Well, because, unlike America, they may not actually needto. Why? Because here in America, we wash our eggs – and while it may sound counterintuitive, the cleaning process may actually make eggs more susceptible to contamination.

 

Advertisements