Everyone assumes their experience is normal, especially if those around them act similarly. Upon visiting each other, Americans and Europeans are equally shocked to see how the other stores their eggs. Americans refrigerate theirs; Europeans do not. In fact, neither do Latin Americans.
Another fact: eggshells have pores. But these tiny holes through which gasses enter/ exit are sealed with a gelatinous cuticle known as the “bloom” when an egg is laid. Despite the rarity of large pores, due to concerns about contact with feces from Salmonella- infected birds or rodents, commercially sold eggs are washed and sanitized before they make it to any store shelf in the United States. Therefore, once the bloom has been rinsed off, an egg must be refrigerated to slow the growth of bacteria.
A 2010 nationwide Salmonella outbreak prompted the U.S. FDA to establish safety guidelines to prevent the development, or at least the spread, of dangerous bacteria.
The U.S.’ CDC makes recommendations for handling and storing backyard eggs. Ironically, immediately after warning against washing eggs– the advise wiping away debris with “fine sandpaper” or a brush/ cloth– because “cold water pulls bacteria into the eggs.” They then advise refrigeration.
Most bacteria and viruses are– at best– inactive when exposed to extreme cold. Some can survive a -50° C/ -58° F climate. But E. Coli, for example, immediately dies (as opposed to an inconsistent death rate due to temperature fluctuations) at temperatures just below freezing (0° C/ 32° F). Similarly, Salmonella dies at extremely low temps.
Unless you have a state-of-the-art digitally controlled refrigerator, it may not even get down to the ideal, 37° F (for food to be merely chilled rather than frozen solid) and it’s not designed to get below freezing.
If eggshells are as porous as the CDC suggests, it hardly makes sense to scrape up the surface, which would make them even more vulnerable to microorganisms. Moreover, chilling eggs in the refrigerator is far colder than simply rinsing them with cold water, which would subject them to a far greater temperature fluctuation. Considering Salmonella grows in temps between 6° C/ 43° F and 46°/ 115° F, it seems silly to think that rinsing them with tap water is going to be the determining factor as to whether they become contaminated.
Another concern (supposedly rare) is hens with infected ovaries because they’ll give birth to bacteria- infected eggs; no amount of surface disinfection can cleanse what’s inside. But a variety of decontamination methods are being invented and tested since research is finding hen infection to be the most likely culprit.
Granted, countries who don’t wash their eggs do vaccinate their poultry to prevent illness in the first place. However, as I reported in my previous post, most vaccine ingredients are proprietary; companies are reluctant to disclose manufacturing details so it’s difficult– if not impossible– to know what all is in them. This is especially true in the United States where common ingredients include major human allergens.
Surprisingly, my corn allergy support group has discovered that the digestive systems of poultry (perhaps all birds??) differ from those of cows (perhaps all mammals? at least the ones with multiple stomachs); few react to chicken that have eaten corn but nearly everyone reacts to corn-red beef. This fact alone is enough to question the ingredients of vaccines administered to hens, whether they or their eggs will eventually be eaten.
I think it’s time to stop sabotaging our own food supply and to figure out how to get the most out of a resource that has tremendous potential for nutrition and sustenance.