Did you know in the UK, eggs can be kept on a shelf instead of the fridge? If so why?
The domestic refrigerator is only about 100 years old; hens have been domesticated for about 8000 years. What went wrong in those 7900 years?
Nothing. The eggshell is kind of like an impervious membrane, invented by Darwin or God to protect the chick. I’m guessing that allowing toxins to pass through the membrane is, in terms of the survival of the species, a big-time no-no. This may explain why we humans have not all died out in the last 8000 years.
Meat products, fish products and milk products (except cheese and butter – if you consume them fast enough) do need to go in the fridge. Eggs don’t, unless you think you are not going to use them for a couple of weeks.
Eggs are also sold from the shelf in Australia, and the Philippines, not just the UK.
It seems that it is the US that is the odd one out on this.
In the USA, some layer hen can be infected ovary with extremely pathogenic species of Salmonella, Salmonella enteritidis. The eggs and egg surface ( with fecal matters) can have this and other pathogens. Washing and refrigeration help to prevent growth of those pathogens. Also consumption of uncooked and under-cooked eggs are discouraged.
In many European countries and UK, the chicken flocks are raised from Salmonella free stocks to assure consumers of any food-borne diseases, specially from Salmonella. So the eggs can be stored at room temperature.
In addition washing eggs make the egg-shell pores more penetrable inside by the motile bacteria from surface, including some pathogens.
Eggs in New Zealand are kept on the shelves in supermarkets but the industry recommends storing them in the fridge at home. The fridge recommendation is just so that it takes longer for them to go rotten, rather than for any food safety reason.
Egg producers in New Zealand don’t wash the shells either.
The eggs have a thin natural layer on the shell that makes the shell nearly impervious to bacteria. In most of Europe eggs are sold with this layer intact, which makes them safe to keep in a cool place but not necessarily in the fridge, especially in the cooler seasons. In the US eggs are sold after a washing process that strips the eggs of this layer. They look whiter and do not have the occasional chicken poop smear or tiny feather stuck on, but they can be easily contaminated by bacteria, so American eggs do not last as long as ours and must be refrigerated.
All eggs can be stored at room-temperature for 30+ days, but by keeping them inside the fridge they can keep for as long as 90 days or more.
Thank you, Christine. Your words of appreciation are an inspiration to me for writing better posts.