Storing your eggs in the refrigerator is normal for you if you are an American, but you should know that this practice is not common in much of Europe, where eggs are kept right on the counter, at room temperature.
Yet, US eggs would be illegal in Europe as a result of the egg-washing process that makes them prone to contamination with bacteria such as Salmonella.
These bacteria multiply extremely fast if the egg is kept at room temperature, particularly if stored for longer than 21 days. This is the reason why public health agencies advise us to store eggs in the fridge.
Apparently, the increased risk of salmonella contamination in US eggs is due to the method they are raised, in industrial concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs.
During these operations, egg-laying hens are crammed into small quarters with extremely little space to stand upon. They are prone to diseases and filthy, as they have been removed them from their natural habitat.
It is a fact that the eggs from such large flocks and eggs from caged hens are more prone to salmonella bacteria than eggs from smaller flocks, those that have been organically fed and free-ranging flocks.
They are also exposed to numerous drugs, which makes them more likely to be antibiotic-resistant strains. Due to these diseases, US started using the technique of egg washing, which is banned in Europe.
Namely, this process includes washing of the eggs of the tens of thousands of chickens who are raised under the same roof, as they have been exposed to all that feces and contaminants.
However, the protective cuticle of eggs is being compromised due to all that scrubbing, rinsing, drying, and spritzing with a chlorine mist. It serves as a natural barrier that comes from the mother hen and protects the egg from bacteria, and microbes.
Therefore, the egg washing process actually makes eggs more prone to contamination. The guidelines of the European Union (EU) guidelines clearly say:
“Such damage may favor trans-shell contamination with bacteria and moisture loss and thereby increase the risk to consumers, particularly if subsequent drying and storage conditions are not optimal.”
Therefore, Europe has banned the process of industrial egg washing. According to the chief executive of Britain’s Egg Industry Council:
“In Europe, the understanding is that [prohibiting the washing and cleaning of eggs] actually encourages good husbandry on farms. It’s in the farmers’ best interests then to produce the cleanest eggs possible, as no one is going to buy their eggs if they’re dirty.”
In America, customers do not have the opportunity to learn if the eggs they are buying are covered in filth. Moreover, 10 percent of US eggs are treated with mineral or vegetable oil, in order to replace the washed off protective cuticle.
Yet, the eggshell has 7,500 pores or openings, so once the cuticle is removed, everything that is put on the egg actually enters it, from chlorine to mineral oil to dish soap — to salmonella.
According to the European egg marketing regulations, keeping eggs in cold and then leaving them out at room temperature might cause condensation, which supports the growth of bacteria on the shell, which can then enter the egg.
Therefore, the EU advises storing eggs at a constant non-refrigerated temperature:
“EU guidelines, therefore, stipulate that eggs should be transported and stored at as constant a temperature as possible – a temperature between 66.2 °F and 69.8°F in the winter and between 69.8°F and 73.4°F in the summer.”
Hence, you can keep your eggs at room temperature and consume them in a short period of time, if they are fresh, with an intact cuticle.
Americans started refrigerating their eggs after mass production caused eggs to travel long distances and sit in storage for weeks to months before being sold in superstores. Hilary Thesmar, director of the American Egg Board’s Egg Safety Center, comments:
“The bottom line is shelf life. The shelf life for an unrefrigerated egg is 7 to 10 days and for refrigerated, it’s 30 to 45 days. A good rule of thumb is one day at room temperature is equal to one week under refrigeration.”
Hence, the eggs we buy from grocery stores are already three weeks old. USDA-certified eggs are obliged to contain a pack date on the carton and a sell-by date.
Organic flocks are much smaller than the massive commercial where bacteria grow, and they are less likely to contain dangerous bacteria, but are higher in nutrients, mostly due to the differences in diet between organic free ranging, pastured hens, and commercially farmed hens.
The chemicals and detergents used for washing or “wet cleaning” organic eggs must be non-synthetic or listed on the National List of allowed non-agricultural substances, such as vinegar, chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and others.
Some farmers only rinse eggs in water to eliminate debris, while others just dry brush them with a brush, sandpaper, or a loofah sponge. Most organic egg producers use gentle washing methods which do not damage the cuticle.
However, the only way to know if your eggs have been washed or oiled is to buy from small, local, farmers you know and trust.
Almost all rural areas have people who raise chickens, so you can easily buy high-quality organic eggs. If you live in an urban area, you can find them in the local health food stores.
Other options are farmers markets and food coops, where you can ask about the way the eggs have been treated.
These are some interesting, scientifically proven, facts about eggs:
— Proteins in cooked eggs are converted by gastrointestinal enzymes, creating peptides that act as ACE inhibitors, which are common prescription medications in the case of high blood pressure
-Eating more than 6 eggs per week does not raise the risk of stroke and ischemic stroke
-The consumption of 2 eggs daily is less detrimental to cardiovascular health than what was previously thought
-According to the findings of a survey of South Carolina adults, there is no link between blood cholesterol levels and “bad” dietary habits, like use of eggs, bacon, cheese, red meat, animal fats, butter, fried foods, whole milk, and sausage
For best effects, you should eat the yolk raw, as heat damages many of the highly perishable nutrients in it.
Moreover, high temperatures might oxidize its cholesterol, especially when in contact with the iron in the whites and cooked, as in scrambled eggs, and thus lead to chronic inflammation in your body.
Furthermore, in case you are consuming eggs raw, they must be organic pastured eggs, as conventionally raised eggs might be contaminated with pathogens. You can also consume them soft-boiled or gently cooked “sunny side up” with runny yolks.
One more thing: avoid all omega-3 eggs, as they are generally laid by chickens that are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Also, they are more likely to perish quicker than non-omega-3 eggs.