Did you know that different countries have different storage conditions for eggs? Well, this is the result of different ways of farming and processing between countries such as the US, UK, and other European nations.
For example, British supermarkets don’t refrigerate eggs and they can be found next to canned food or other nonperishable food.
In the US, eggs are being washed and sprayed with a sanitizer before they are brought to the market in order to reduce the risk of salmonella infection. Afterwards, eggs are refrigerated and kept at cooler temperatures. This keeps the growth of bacteria in check.
Unlike the US, Europe prevents salmonella contamination In a different way. It isn’t required for eggs to be refrigerated because they are not washed.
According to some safety food officials in Ireland – “Priority in egg production is to produce clean eggs at the point of collection, rather than trying to clean them afterward. This can be done through good management and hygiene of the poultry house.”
Egg washing and poultry farming in the United States
There is a bigger risk of salmonella contamination in the US because Americans prefer producing eggs in large-scale laying houses. This practically means that even if they are using good sanitary practices, the bacteria can actually be passed on from an infected hen to the egg.
In order to reduce the risks of salmonella infections, eggs must be washed and then sprayed with a sanitizer. If this isn’t done properly, this process can even increase chances of bacteria getting into the eggshell from all the feces around it
The USDA’s Egg Grading manual explains: “Wetting a dirty shell provides moisture in which bacteria may breed and assists their growth and penetration through the shell,” The eggs must be kept at a temperature of 7.2 degree Celsius or even lower.
Hygiene practices in Europe
In Europe, it is believed that washing the outside layer commonly known as cuticle actually makes it easier for salmonella to penetrate into the egg.
According to a report by the EFSA Journal: “The concern shown within the EU about allowing the practice of washing eggs arises first from the possibility of deterioration of the cuticle”
After thousands of people were sickened by Salmonella in 1997, Britain’s egg farmers started to vaccinate their hens. This is another reason why washing and refrigerating is not a common practice in the UK.
The New York Times reported that the FDA does not require the vaccination of hens because “there was not enough evidence to conclude that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from getting sick.”
There were also some complains coming from farmers that the vaccinating would be quite expensive. That’s why the FDA is controlling the threat of salmonella through regular testing, refrigeration standards, and strict sanitary codes in hen houses and processing areas, as the New York Times stated.
Mark Filder from the Kingston University said: “There is a suggestion that not allowing cleaning eggs in the EU might help maintain good farm husbandry and practices. In the EU it is generally suggested that eggs are stored at an ambient temperature of around 17 to 23 degrees C (62 to 73 degrees F).”