I bought some eggs from Costco, but forgot to put them in the fridge. They sat in the kitchen’s cooler chest (no ice) for over 12 hours. i threw them away. My brother said, “Oh, they’re fine. We always leave the eggs out.” They’re not buying farm eggs that you might get away with. I told him it was a dangerous move, but he shook me off. Am I off base? Would it be okay to hard boil it?
— Voracious Live Chat Reader
Readers made a lot of comments when I quoted Standard Government Recommendations for Refrigerating Eggs. Some have told me that eggs should “never” be refrigerated, while others have offered (anecdotal) evidence that they have never gotten sick from room temperature eggs, thus suggesting that refrigeration is not necessary. Some people did. More notably, eggs are routinely left on counters in other parts of the world.
“Refrigeration requirements in the U.S. are science-based,” says Deanna Jones, a research food technologist at the U.S. National Poultry Research Center, part of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
Here’s what you need to know about why refrigerating eggs is best.
Refrigeration is a food safety issue
Amy Johnston, a food safety community extension educator at the University of Minnesota, said the most common egg-associated pathogen is salmonella, a bacterium commonly found in the gut of chickens. This may not make the chicken sick, but the eggs that are laid can carry the bacteria, which can then be passed on to humans. (The European Union regulations are in place About vaccinating chickens against certain types of salmonella to reduce spread and contamination.it is not required in the USHowever, some producers do it. )
Some strains of Salmonella infect humans more readily than others, but all strains can cause disease, says Jones. The USDA recommends refrigerating eggs at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below at home (producers can store and transport eggs at temperatures up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit). Warmer temperatures “create a more favorable environment” for bacterial growth, Jones said.
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Like other perishables, eggs are susceptible to spoilage-causing microbes, says Jones. Refrigerators provide a less favorable environment for them to thrive.
Heating or reheating food is no substitute for proper food storage. 165 degrees is the temperature that kills most pathogenic microbes, but some bacteria may release stable toxins at higher temperatures, Jones said. Additionally, whether intentionally or not, undercooked eggs are not uncommon, especially in home kitchens where the temperature is not checked with a digital thermometer.
It is important to keep pre-chilled eggs cold
Johnston says eggs are dry and cold in a 45-degree refrigerator. As soon as the egg is brought to room temperature, it will begin to sweat and condensation will form on the shell. According to Johnston, various factors that promote bacterial growth include humidity and heat, which is exactly what happens when previously refrigerated eggs are left out. Bacteria he can double up to every 20 minutes, and those bacteria can enter the egg yolk and white through the pores from the surface of the shell.
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Refrigerated eggs keep quality longer
Jones was part of the team in 2018 published the research Compare how four eggs are processed and stored: washed and refrigerated at about 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Unwashed and refrigerated. Store unwashed at room temperature or about 72°C. Wash, apply mineral oil and refrigerate.
“There’s a big difference in the loss of egg quality,” says Jones, when comparing refrigerated versus non-refrigerated. In this study, egg quality was tested based on: USDA Grading Standards, AA is considered the highest quality, then A, then B. Refrigerated eggs maintained an AA grade for 15 weeks, but unrefrigerated eggs he degraded to a B grade within a week.
Furthermore, the time before the physical quality (height, width) of the room temperature yolk was affected was less than 24 hours, whereas it took 15 weeks for the three chilled types.
The protective function of the egg epidermis is limited
Eggs are governed by state and federal operating standards. Eggs that you typically buy at the grocery store are washed to ensure quality standards and reduce the chance of spoilage and food poisoning, Jones said. The process typically involves warm water spray cleaning with a food-safe detergent solution and brush, followed by a warm disinfectant rinse. The eggs are then air dried before being packaged. (Farm eggs from small producers may not receive the same treatment under state law.)
Cleaning is not practiced in some parts of the world, and many commenters in our chat claim that eggs can be stored at room temperature because cleaning leaves the surface skin of the shell intact. Did.
But Jones warns: “Cuticles are not for you.” Cuticles are a water-based, high-protein coating that deposits on eggs as they are laid. Its purpose is to protect the embryo inside the egg, not to protect against food poisoning. The epidermis begins to decompose and flake off as soon as the eggs are laid. This is so that if the chicken hatches (the egg is fertilized), air can reach the embryo.
Another note on cleaning: The government does not recommend that consumers wash their own eggs, whether they are home grown or purchased from a farm, as they can introduce bacteria.
Where you store your eggs is ultimately up to you, Jones said, and you should decide how much risk you’re willing to take and why, adding that the government’s recommendations are based on “scientific evidence.” emphasized that there is Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to complications from food poisoning, such as salmonella, but anyone can be at risk.
After all, there are very few costs or risks associated with storing eggs in the refrigerator. I think the benefits and peace of mind of keeping eggs longer lasting, especially with prices fluctuating, are well worth the fridge space.
Different refrigeration and storage regulations may apply, such as when small producers sell eggs directly from the farm or in organized markets, so Johnston is familiar with state regulations. , recommends contacting producers about their practices.
This article has been updated to include additional information on vaccination of chickens against Salmonella.