Here’s why North Americans put their eggs in the fridge and not the Europeans

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The key is to isolate the dangerous bacteria. But is the fridge absolutely necessary? Not according to the Europeans.

In North America, you traditionally put almost everything in the fridge and even food that should be kept on the counter of the kitchen or in the pantry. And that’s where we learn this unbelievable thing: Europeans keep their eggs on the counter! They are absolutely against their refrigeration. Who is right ? It seems that we are faced with two different approaches to the same evil. To Learn About Preserving Foods: The Best Tips for Preserving Food

At the heart of the challenge is salmonellosis, one of the causes of food poisoning.the most common. It broods in poultry farms and is found on shells by contamination with dirt and faeces. But the danger increases when the bacteria is in the egg after a bacterial infection of the ovaries of the hen. To put an end to this problem, the Americans introduced in the 1970s a new technique for cleaning eggs with soap and very hot water after laying eggs. This boiling shower removes all traces of salmonella, but also decodes the egg with its thin protective layer called cuticle. This loss deprives him of his supply of water and oxygen, as well as his protection against harmful bacteria. Hence refrigeration to prevent infection.

European experts in food safety, for their part, have made another choice: the preservation of the cuticle, the ban on producers washing eggs and refrigerating them (to prevent mold and bacterial contamination of wet eggs delivered at room temperature). They have put in place an effective vaccination program for hens against salmonella. Thus, the quantity of egg-related food poisoning in Britain in 2000 was 14,000 cases per 8000 today, after the extensive deployment of preventive measures. In the United States, there are 79,000 cases for a much larger population.

Both approaches have their flaws and merits. We know that eggs are kept longer in the fridge, 50 days, rather than 21 on the counter. However, they absorb odors and tastes from nearby foods. Counter-shoppers say their eggs taste much better. But eggs kept in their box in the fridge without other odoriferous food do not undergo alteration of taste. And for some chefs, eggs for baking should always be at room temperature. This may explain this requirement in some recipes.

If you choose to keep your eggs out of the fridge, start talking to poultry producers at the local farmer’s market. You could then find unwashed and unrefrigerated eggs with an intact cuticle, which would allow you to keep them on the counter. Try to see the difference. But be consistent: an unwashed egg that has been in the fridge must remain there until it is consumed.

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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