Why Do Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated in the USA But Not in Europe?

Why Do Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated in the USA But Not in Europe?

Eggs found in Europe sit next to dried goods, at room temperature, in the neighborhood markets. This is very strange considering all our eggs are refrigerated in the US. We are all concerned about the potential of Salmonella to make people sick, but the U.S. and Europe just protect against this threat in different ways.

Eggs in Europe don’t need to be refrigerated because many countries in Europe have improved sanitation methods and vaccinate against Salmonella Enteritidis. Salmonella can infect a chicken’s ovaries and contaminate the yolk. This may seem unsanitary to those living in the United States, but the theory is that if the egg cuticle and shell are left undamaged, they can function as a layer of defense against bacteria. Also, the egg whites have natural defenses against bacteria, which can help protect the egg for up to three weeks.

By contrast, eggshells in the U.S. are washed and disinfected, which kills any bacteria outside but does nothing to those that might already be in the yolk. This washing process is illegal in Europe because it strips the eggshell of its thin layer of protection against bacteria. Therefore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires commercially sold eggs to be stored below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. While cooking kills most bacteria, refrigeration is necessary to limit the number of Salmonella bacteria and reduce the chance of you becoming sick. Once eggs are refrigerated, consistent refrigeration keeps the eggs from sweating and becoming more vulnerable to bacterial infection.

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