Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why don't they refrigerate their eggs? Because!!!

Let's go back to a few posts ago when I asked the million dollar question: Why aren't their eggs refrigerated?

Why do Americans refrigerate their eggs when Spanish people do not? Eggs at the supermarket here in Spain are never in a cooler, they're always just out on the shelf. Everyone leaves them at room temperature and they taste just fine!

And why are American eggs white while European eggs are brown?

I asked some people about this and did a little research, and here are some of the things I found out (although no one seemed to know for sure):

-In terms of the refrigeration vs. non refrigeration issue, a few people have suggested that perhaps Europeans (at least Spaniards) are a lot closer to the fresh market so it's not necessary to refrigerate the eggs for a while. (My question to this is, what happens when the eggs don't sell after a while, and they've been sitting on the shelf too long?)

-When I googled "why don't they refrigerate their eggs," I came across someone asking the same question about Mexico. Someone seemed to think it was a matter of cutting costs on electricity. (I say that's baloney! Maybe that makes sense in some aspects, but all the other poultry and dairy products are refrigerated in supermarkets here, so why couldn't they just throw the eggs on in there too?)

-Some friends living in both Egypt and England told me they also don't refrigerate them there, while another friend in Turkey told me they do.

-The friend in Turkey said that eggs should always be refrigerated, and because they aren't in Spain, they have more cases of salmonella poisoning than in the U.S. and Turkey. This has to just be a theory- I can guarantee I've never heard of anyone getting salmonella poisoning here or it being a problem. In fact, when I googled "salmonella poisoning in Spain," I found THIS website giving statistics on salmonella outbreaks country by country. The US is pretty high up there, and Turkey is higher than Spain. Hmm.

-Then I came across THIS very interesting article talking about an egg recall in the United States from August 2010 because of salmonella , and how in England they use a vaccine they give to the chickens which prevents the growth of salmonella on eggs after hatching. SO...

Maybe that's the answer right there- maybe because the US doesn't use this vaccine before hatching, the eggs are refrigerated in order to slow the process of bacteria growth, while in other places that have used the vaccine, refrigeration isn't as necessary.

I thought these people's comments from THIS site were interesting:

"My daughter did a science experiment on this subject and we used only farm fresh eggs that came out of our chickens. Within hours of laying we did not wash any of them. After two months the eggs in the refrigerator had thick yolks even after warming up to room temps and would separate from the whites in clumps when whisked. The eggs in the pantry at room temp which in my house is 75 degrees (I'm cold natured) was normal and would make great scrambled eggs except she had to use them for school. We only refrigerate eggs that have gotten cold (IE they froze when the coop door was left open), they've cracked, or have been wet or washed. Never Never Never wash an egg & not refrigerate them."

"Being from Montreal, raising my own hens, having my own eggs. green included (they are so beautiful!), I do not refrigerate them at all! There is no need to, unless they are washed, then they might be placed in the fridge as the pores of the usually airtight shell will have expanded and just might let bacteria (as in, if I had salmonella floating around) seep into the egg. Eggs are so beautiful in a bowl on the counter, it is a shame to hide them.
Though any eggs from the supermarket need to be refrigerated as they have been washed and handled and gone to all types of places.
That is my opinion and I am sticking to it!"

It sounds like the refrigeration thing is necessary if the egg has been washed and handled a lot, especially in transit. This makes a lot of sense, as here, many times we've found eggs that still had feathers on them! They clearly hadn't been washed, and that's probably why they didn't need to be refrigerated. Refrigeration also seems to effect the way the egg cooks. The temperature of the place seems to have NO effect in bacteria growth or not, since people from the Caribbean, South America, Spain, Australia, and Ecuador have commented that they don't refrigerate their eggs and they are always just fine.

I can say that I feel perfectly comfortable buying the eggs from the non-refrigerated shelf here in Spain. We've eaten them for two years now and have never gotten sick. However, we still stick them in the fridge when we get home, out of habit I suppose. The same can be said for our American eggs- we would never risk not refrigerating those ones!

As for the reason why eggs are white and brown, these two responses on another site pretty much sum up what everyone else has told me:

"I have laying hens that are black and some that are brown. They lay huge brown eggs. White chickens lay white eggs. There is absolutely no difference in nutritional value between a white egg and brown egg, although some consumers feel the brown eggs are better for you, so will pay a premium price and the egg producers are laughing all the way to the bank. I free-range my hens, that is, they get to run free instead of living their lives in cages, so my eggs are healthier."

"Yeah, I don't know where you're from but I've noticed that in America the eggs are white, whereas in most of Europe they are brown, and I don't think it's anything to do with one being better for you than the other, I think it's soley to do the breed of the chicken. And I think I heard that the American consumer prefers white eggs, so that's why they sell more white than brown eggs!"

I have a feeling no one really knows the truth, and I'm not completely satisfied by the answers I've found yet, either! But I suppose this will have to do, for now.

Note: After posting this, a friend of mine linked me a really cool web-site that shows the color egg that comes out of each breed of chicken! Click HERE.


  1. ughh, the thing that ticks me off the most about this whole egg business is how they do not sell egg whites! they're called clara de huevo and i've been to two different supermarkets and they don't sell them!

  2. This might help, apparently it all depends on the "bloom"