If you grew up somewhere in the U.K. or Europe, you might answer “countertop,” but if you grew up in the US, you probably said “the fridge!”
So who’s right?
Why Americans choose to chill.
Most Americans automatically refrigerate eggs, and there’s a good EGGSplanation. Statistics supplied by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show that about 142,000 illnesses each year are attributed to consuming eggs with Salmonella.
American chicken farmers are not required by law to vaccinate their hens against Salmonella; consequently, only about one third of all farmers choose to vaccinate. The best way to prevent this food-borne illness is by refrigerating the eggs.
In a carton in the fridge, eggs should safely last four to five weeks without a noticeable decrease in quality – according to recommendations by the American Egg Board. (Read How Old are Your Eggs.)
Another factor in the fridge EGGSplanation is that washing eggs is a standard American practice – which seems logical. After all, Salmonella is spread EGGSternally by poop on the outside of the egg or internally through an infected hen’s reproductive system.
Once washed, American eggs are stripped of their natural protection. When a hen lays an egg, she coats it with a layer of liquid – the cuticle – that dries quickly and serves as an effective barrier to possible contaminants (like Samonella.) Vulnerable, washed eggs need to be refrigerated.
Why the Brits (and others) don’t.
British law requires that all hens be vaccinated against Salmonella thanks in part to an egg scare in 1988. Since then, the Department of Health has taken precautionary measures to prevent another Salmonella outbreak. And many European countries have adopted similar standards.
Additionally, washing eggs is illegal in many European countries, and their E.U. egg regulations recognize an egg’s natural cuticle’s ability to keep bacteria from getting in through the shell.
So now you know why it’s common to see eggs stored at room temperature in grocery stores in the U.K., France, Germany, Switzerland….and many other countries.
Peaceful Co-Eggsistence. In the end, washed eggs from unvaccinated chickens should be refrigerated. (The Americans are right!)
And unwashed eggs from vaccinated chickens can be stored safely on the countertop for at least a week and in the refrigerator several weeks longer. (Everyone else is right, too!)
You could also choose to purchase our eggs at the Reedy Fork Farm Store, from Deep Roots Market or Weaver Streets Market. (Viva la choice! That’s the American way, right?)
Take a look at these non-refrigerated eggs from around the world.