Why don't certain people refrigerate eggs that say "please refrigerate" on the carton?



innoabrd November 14, 2010
Commercially produced eggs in the US are wet washed before sale. This actually removes a thin coating eggs naturally come with, which makes the shells more porous (including to bacteria) and makes the eggs more susceptible to spoilage. Wet washing is NOT done in the EU and is, I believe, actually illegal there. If the eggs have been washed, they require refrigeration. If not, they don't. In Europe (and here in South Africa), eggs are not washed and are sold as an ambient product in the supermarket.

So, if you're buying USDA-inspected eggs, they'll be washed, its required. Definitely refrigerate them! But if you're buying from some farmer you know doesn't wash them (poop is a good sign...), or producing your own, don't wash them and don't bother refrigerating.

OK, you can wash the poop off just before you use them...
Nora November 13, 2010
Atwarwithin, "certain people?" I'm guessing it's one person and it's someone close to you and I hope this answers you've gotten have convinced you that you're both right. Now make a nice omelet, kiss and make up.
pierino November 13, 2010
Betterirene hit all the important talking points here. With factory farmed chickens, like that outfit in Iowa produces, the salmonella bacteria is in there from the time they are fertilized and only cooking will kill it. I happen to like using raw eggs for mayonnaise and so on or just barely poached (frisee au lardons), so I'm very careful about who I buy them from. On the topic of foie gras Paula Wolfert said, "I'd rather be a force fed duck than a Zacky Farms chicken."

Probably everyone in this country who's eaten egg or chicken has probably experienced at least a mild experience of salmonella (even if you didn't know it) but it's e-coli that will really ruin your life.
nutcakes November 13, 2010
If the eggs are infected with Salmonella, then room temperature storage allows the bacteria to multiply rapidly and can make you very sick and possibly hospitalized. Food poisioning can lead to death and I know people who had pulse and heart irregularity from it.

If they are not infected, supermarket eggs will just keep longer in the fridge.

Eggs don't often go bad, they just shrink in the shell, get a bigger air pocket and the whites go flat. You'd smell it if it went spoiled.

But you won't smell the Salmonella bacteria, and that can make you sick if the egg has it and you eat it raw or undercooked.

I will risk raw egg because I am not in a part of the country where it is common. But I wouldn't serve it to children or elderly or any guest that doesn't know, just to be safe. I have had terrible food poisioning before. But not likely from egg.
betteirene November 12, 2010
Guess what? Chicken butt! Salmonella isn't funny.

You should be on the lookout for chicken poop that gets on the egg as it's laid because hens have only one "outgoing" hole that they use for peeing, laying eggs, having sex and pooping. But better than 99% of the time, because of the stringent regulations for cleaning commercial eggs before they can be sold, the poop ON the shell isn't what will make you ill.

It's what's IN the shell that counts, and this was the reason more than 1,000 people got sick and for the massive recall of 170 million eggs a few months ago. Hens can (and did) become infected with salmonella and deposit the bacteria in the egg as grows--before the shell is formed--in the reproductive tract. They look, taste, and smell completely normal, and there's no way outside of a laboratory for you to know if you have the 1 egg out of 20,000 that may contain salmonella contracted in this manner. (The hens more than likely get it from their feed when it comes into contact with human handlers who don't wash hands after pooping or with rat feces.)

Storing eggs below 40 degrees won't kill the Salmonella bacteria, but it will keep it from multiplying into a colony large enough to cause illness. (As few as 15 can be enough to cause a baby to puke or poop its guts out.) You can safely eat cookie dough, mayonnaise, and sunny-side up eggs if they are made with pasteurized eggs. (Pasteurization also kills the avian flu virus.)

The reason you and your grampa have never become ill might not have anything to do with how the eggs were stored, but it has everything to do with luck.

Guess who? Chicken poo!

campagnes November 12, 2010
I prefer to not refrigerate my eggs. I use them so often for baking that there's no point, for me.

I've read (could be wrong) that an egg's shell is all the protection it needs from bacteria, and that the only eggs in need of refrigeration are the ones with visible trauma on the shell.

I'm jealous of those of you with access to daily fresh eggs :).. there's nothing better in the world than super fresh eggs, over easy, lightly salted and peppered, with lightly buttered toast. Mm. Dinner.
Queen O. November 12, 2010
I have backyard chickens, although I've only had them about 6 months. Basically, when an egg is laid, there is a protective coating, or 'bloom', on them which keeps them from going bad.

If they are never refrigerated, they keep for quite a while. However, as said above, they stay fresher, longer if refrigerated. Eggshells are somewhat porous though and once they've been refrigerated, they no longer keep as well at room temps.

You can test eggs for freshness by putting the whole egg in a glass of water. Ones that stay at the bottom are freshest, somewhere in between they are getting older, and I wouldn't probably eat a 'floater'.
atwarwithin November 12, 2010
I know. I've never gotten the slightest tummy ache from eating cookie dough, besides the too much sugar feeling! My grampa never kept his eggs cold, he didn't like waiting longer for them to cook.
sabele November 12, 2010
It's my understanding (easily wrong; I'm sure someone out there knows better) that people in the US refrigerate eggs only because we refrigerate everything (because, yes, it makes them last longer). Most people in Europe don't refrigerate eggs.

As for the cookie dough thing, I think that's just general risk from eating raw egg yolks. Likely not a high one, though.
atwarwithin November 12, 2010
So, there's no harmful bacteria that can transfer into the inside of the egg? And furthermore, is it an old wives' tale that you will get "sick" from eating cookie dough?
linzarella November 12, 2010
Maybe they got them from a farmer who was just re-using the carton. If eggs haven't been refrigerated yet, they don't need to be. They last quite a while unrefrigerated, but they'll last longer in the fridge, so you might as well refrigerate.
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