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Should Eggs Be Stored In The Fridge?

How you are mandated to store your eggs is dependant upon which side of the Atlantic ocean you reside in, be it the U.S. or European nations. The cautionary measures are debated upon due to eggs being one of the primary causes of the salmonella epidemic in the 1980s.

Both regions have different approaches to controlling the salmonella bacteria in poultry, based on which countries have advised citizens to refrigerate eggs or not. Peanut butter, chicken and sprouts, apart from eggs, can cause the spread of salmonella infections found in the intestines of animals. The foodborne illness leads to diarrhea and vomiting and in some cases, it can be fatal for people with poor immunity when it enters the food chain.

How Americans should store their eggs

In spite of other sources of the infection, 77 percent of salmonella infections in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s was from consuming eggs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture  (USDA) carries out its preventive measures by ensuring that eggs are thoroughly washed, sanitized and refrigerated on commercial farms, beforehand. 

After the thorough sterilization process, during the transportation to grocery stores, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) recommends refrigerating the eggs at 7 degrees Celsius or 45 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Eggs The Food and Drugs Administration recommends that eggs be refrigerated at 7 degrees Celsius to prevent the penetration of bacteria, after it has been sterilized thoroughly at commercial farms. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Sterilization removes the cuticle layer of the eggshell, that forms a protective layer against bacteria. Refrigerating blocks some of the salmonella bacteria from entering the eggshell.

Moisture formed on the eggshell as a result of condensation due to warm temperatures, does not protect it from bacteria entering the eggshell, hence it is important to keep commercial eggs refrigerated in the U.S at all times.

This method is aimed at only minimizing the amount of bacteria entering the shell, and it does not act as a 100 percent preventive agent. An additional safety step that can be taken is to cook the eggs till the yoke and white are firm enough to kill the bacteria present inside.

How Europeans should store their eggs

In European countries, it is not legal to sanitize the eggs beforehand since all poultry are vaccinated according to their laws, thus the cuticle will be present to block the penetration of any bacteria through the eggshell, unlike in the U.S. 

The EU recommends that eggs be stored in cool temperatures in supermarkets and not be allowed to remain in warm surroundings, for the condensation could make it easy for bacteria to get through the eggshell.

When compared, refrigerating eggs keeps them edible for two or three weeks, whereas new eggs have to be consumed within a few days if kept at room temperature. A common mistake made by many is storing the eggs on the refrigerator door. This actually leads to temperature fluctuations that can easily let the bacteria penetrate the eggs. Keeping them stored in sealed cartons at the back of the fridge works best.