Why do we refrigerate eggs?

In the USA, we keep our eggs refrigerated. This is the way it’s been since I was a child, and I never questioned it. Then a few years ago I visited Spain. While shopping in a local grocery store, I noticed a huge stack of eggs sitting in a corner of the store.

I finally got around to researching it, and this is what I found out. Egg-laying chickens in Europe are vaccinated for salmonella, whereas in the USA they are not. Because eggs are ripe grounds for salmonella, the USDA requires egg producers to wash their eggs and spray with chlorine before selling them. This process removes the “cuticle,” a thin protective layer that actually protects the egg from absorbing harmful bacteria. The unprotected eggs must now be refrigerated to maintain freshness and keep bacteria from spreading. (BTW… the EU prohibits the washing of eggs.)

Yep, it sounds kinda backwards to me too.

Incidentally, Spaniards love their eggs, as you will quickly discover if you ever visit. One of their signature dishes is “tortilla,” which is basically a dish made on the stove using eggs and potatoes. It’s a pain to make (I tried it), but it is simply divine!

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