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Should You Refrigerate Your Eggs?

December 21, 2013 2 min read

So you're an American, you probably store eggs in the refrigerator – and wouldn’t think of doing it any other way.  But...the US is one of the only countries where chicken eggs are kept refrigerated. In much of Europe eggs are often stored right on the counter, at room temperature.  But then, US eggs would be illegal in Europe due to an egg-washing process that may actually make them more susceptible to contamination with bacteria like Salmonella.  (not good) When you get eggs from tens of thousands of chickens under one roof, there’s a good chance they will get feces and other contaminants on them. The US solution,because reducing the size of the flocks and ensuring better sanitation and access to the outdoors is too hard, is to wash the eggs. But this isn’t as innocuous as it sounds.  As the eggs are scrubbed, rinsed, dried, and spritzed with a chlorine mist, its protective cuticle may be compromised. This is a natural barrier that comes from the mother hen that lays the egg, and it acts as a shield against bacteria. Shockingly about 10 percent of US eggs are treated with vegetable oil, as a way to “replace” the protective cuticle that’s just been washed off.  Unfortunately, since an eggshell contains approximately 7,500 pores, once the natural cuticle is removed what's put ON your egg goes INTO your egg. Meaning, whatever the eggshell comes into contact with can cross over this semi-permeable membrane and end up in your breakfast, from chlorine to mineral oil to dish soap -- to salmonella. It is possible for eggs to sit out at room temperature if you are going to consume them in a relatively short period of time.  Eggs last for 7-10 days at room temperature and 30-45 days refrigerated.  A good rule of thumb is one day at room temperature equals 1 week refrigerated.  The bottom line is that if your eggs are very fresh and if their cuticle is intact you do not have to refrigerate them. In order to keep your eggs as clear of contaminants as possible is to buy local eggs, instead of sitting around in storage for weeks, these are almost always out on your table within a few days.  Farmer's Markets or Food Co-ops are a great way to get eggs.  You'll also be able to meet face to face with those who source your food and ask questions about their operations.  Furthermore the best way to eat eggs is to consume the yolk raw because heat damages many of the nutrients found inside the yolk.  Another great reason to have your eggs over easy.

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