The practice of most American households is to refrigerate eggs after they’ve purchased them. It’s so common that it’s strange to think that other places around the world choose to keep their eggs at room temperature. If taken care of correctly, both methods are safe—so what’s the difference?
NPR looked into the matter and found that the decision to refrigerate or not to refrigerate eggs comes down to that specific country’s method of preventing salmonella contamination. For instance, in European countries, residents prefer to keep their eggs at room temperature.
That’s because they vaccinate their female chickens which helps prevent them from ever having the disease, meaning they can’t spread it. On the other hand, American and other countries like Japan do not vaccinate their chickens. In order to limit the chance of the disease spreading, they require that all eggs get washed and refrigerated.
Curious about which method is better? Well, both have their pros and cons and a reason behind their implementation. When washing eggs, it has the effect of removing a layer of protection from the eggs shell making it more susceptible to bacteria. To combat this issue, countries like the U.S. and Japan who don’t vaccinate their chickens and require eggs to be washed add a layer of oil around the shell to prevent germs from penetrating the egg.
However, the problem with this method is that once the egg becomes cold, it needs to be kept at that same temperature. Otherwise, according to the L.A. Times, condensation may occur which may allow salmonella to seep its way through the shell.
If you do not wash your eggs, the outer protective layer remains intact and eggs can be stored on the shelf. This, however, means that your eggs will not last as long.
NPR explains that if you refrigerate eggs, they may last for about 50 days, while non-refrigerated eggs can only last for approximately 21 days. Now that you are aware of the difference and associated risks, store your eggs in whichever way your heart desires!