Mostly, it’s about washing. In the U.S., egg producers with 3,000 or more laying hens must wash their eggs. Methods include using soap, enzymes or chlorine.Sometimes you have to wonder.
The idea is to control salmonella, a potentially fatal bacteria that can cling to eggs. The Centers for Disease control estimates that salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses a year, resulting in 450 deaths — though not all of those cases are traced to eggs.
The bacteria can be passed through the porous shell to the inside of the egg from material on the outside, though in rarer cases it can infect the ovaries of a chicken and infect the eggs from the inside. . . .
But — and here is the big piece of the puzzle — washing the eggs also cleans off a thin, protective cuticle devised by nature to protect bacteria from getting inside the egg in the first place. (The cuticle also helps keep moisture in the egg.)
With the cuticle gone, it is essential — and, in the United States, the law — that eggs stay chilled from the moment they are washed until you are ready to cook them. Japan also standardized a system of egg washing and refrigeration after a serious salmonella outbreak in the 1990s.
In Europe and Britain, the opposite is true. European Union regulations prohibit the washing of eggs. The idea is that preserving the protective cuticle is more important than washing the gunk off.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Bureaucrats and Eggs
Why do Americans refrigerate their eggs, while Europeans leave them out on the counter?