Do Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated?
As much as we think we know our food, there are still certain things we don’t fully understand. One of the biggest debates in the kitchen is whether eggs really need to be refrigerated. We’ve all heard the words “keep refrigerated,” but do eggs really need to be stored on the refrigerator shelf? Let’s delve into this age-old debate.
1. What Are the Benefits of Refrigerating Eggs?
- Protection from Bacteria – Refrigerating eggs prevents salmonella and other types of bacteria from developing. This is because refrigeration slows down the growth of bacteria, making it safer for us to consume them.
- Maintain Good Quality – Refrigerating eggs keeps them fresh for longer and prevents them from going bad as quickly. This ensures that the eggs retain their maximum goodness, taste, and nutritional value.
- Prevent Flavor Transfer - Storing eggs in the refrigerated can also help to prevent flavor transfer. The strong odour of certain foods, such as garlic or onions, can easily affect the flavor of eggs if stored at room temperature. Refrigeration ensures that the eggs remain untainted.
- Preserve Vitamins – Vitamins are essential components of our diet, and egg yolks are a great source of some of them. Refrigerating eggs helps to lock in their levels of important vitamins such as A, D, and E, making sure that when we consume them, we also get the full benefit of their nutrition.
Eggs are perishable and needing refrigeration makes one of the most common sense conclusions. If kept at room temperature, eggs will spoil in a few days and can harbour bacteria even quicker. Not to mention, the odours and flavours that can be transferred to the eggs from other foods in the kitchen. Refrigeration helps to preserve the eggs and keep them safe for both consumption and cooking.
2. Is Refrigerating Eggs Necessary?
There is a lot of confusion when it comes to refrigerating eggs. The reality is that it isn’t necessary to refrigerate them, but it does depend on the country/region you live in.
In US & Canada: In most cases, chilling eggs is a must. This is mainly because eggs produced in US and Canada are usually washed before they are packed and shipped. Once eggs are washed, harmful bacteria can potentially be present, so refrigeration is a must.
In Europe: Refrigerating eggs is not necessary in Europe as many producers do not wash their eggs. This means that the protective coating – called a bloom – on the eggshell remains intact and keeps harmful bacteria from getting in.
Here are some other reasons to refrigerate eggs:
- It helps to preserve the quality of the eggs and prevent them from spoiling.
- Eggs in the fridge will have a longer shelf-life.
- Refrigerated eggs can be more easily cracked.
In the end, whether you refrigerate your eggs or not is up to you. While it isn’t necessary in some regions, it is strongly recommended to prevent food-borne illness.
3. Eggs and Food Poisoning: Do the Risks Change if the Eggs Are Unrefrigerated?
Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients used in home-cooked meals. But how you store them matters. Because eggs are perishable and potentially contain salmonella, it’s important to take special care when it comes to food safety. But do the risks of food poisoning change if the eggs aren’t refrigerated?
The short answer is yes. According to the US Department of Agriculture, leaving eggs out of the refrigerator for over two hours can cause bacteria to multiply to dangerously high levels, leading to food poisoning. Here’s why:
- Eggshells are porous: The thin, porous layer of the eggshell lets oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. As the contents of the egg respire, it loses moisture and nutrients which bacteria use to grow.
- Warm temperatures: Room temperature eggs (often ~65°F) are the ideal temperature for bacteria to grow quickly. Refrigeration slows down this growth, helping to maintain the safety of the eggs.
- Bacterial growth: If your eggs aren’t refrigerated or aren’t washed thoroughly enough and cooked correctly, the types of bacteria found in raw egg whites and yolks can cause food poisoning.
So, if you don’t plan on eating your eggs right away or aren’t sure if they’ve been kept refrigerated, don’t risk it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
4. Other Considerations: Are Refrigerated Eggs Better in Quality and Taste?
When it comes to whether eggs should be refrigerated or not, there are a few other considerations to take into account. First and foremost, refrigerated eggs will generally be of a higher quality and better taste than eggs that are left out on the shelf for extended periods of time. This is because, in most cases, the eggs are kept at a consistent temperature and this prevents the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.
The second factor to consider is the freshness of the eggs. Refrigerated eggs will be fresher than eggs that are left unrefrigerated, as they can maintain their freshness better when kept in colder temperatures. This can make the eggs healthier and also lead to a better taste when they are cooked.
Finally, it is important to note that, in some cases, eggs may perish quicker in the refrigerator than when stored at room temperature. However, this is still the recommended option for preserving the eggs and ensuring that they maintain their quality.
5. What Is the Verdict: Do Eggs Really Need to Be Refrigerated?
When it comes to storing eggs, there has been conflicting advice over the years. Some people say they don’t need to be refrigerated, while others insist that refrigeration is essential.
Modern storage advised
Today, advice from leading health organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is unequivocal. The USDA recommends storing eggs in the refrigerator as soon as possible and to always wash them prior to cooking. This is because eggs that are not refrigerated can develop a salmonella bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Pros and cons
Refrigerating eggs is seemingly more convenient in that it’s easier to keep track of their freshness when stored in a refrigerator. It also allows you to store them for longer periods of time: up to five weeks when kept at the right temperature. However, it also means that eggs have to come back up to room temperature before they can be used.
When it comes to keeping eggs safe, refrigeration is the clear answer. Washing and storing eggs in the refrigerator as soon as possible, and keeping them there until they are ready to use is the best way to ensure that they are safe and consumable. We can see from the pros and cons that the benefits of keeping eggs in the refrigerator far outweigh the risks associated with leaving them out at risk of contamination.
As long as you take the appropriate food safety precautions, whether you choose to keep your eggs in the refrigerator or not is entirely up to you. Keeping them in the refrigerator may provide extended shelf life, but it ultimately just comes down to personal preference.