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Should you refrigerate eggs?

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10th-Dec-2016       
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Life Desk :
A popular slogan used by the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) tricked us all into eating eggs at anytime of the week. While egg remains a favourite breakfast/lunch/dinner option for most of us, the question whether we store it right has always intrigued us. Does refrigerating eggs destroys their nutritional value? Will keeping them at room temperature lead to bacterial growth? How to store them to ensure they are safe to eat?
Why does it matter, whether you keep your eggs in the refrigerator or on the food rack? Salmonella, a bacteria that is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, is what enters the eggs. This bacteria is a common cause of food borne diseases. Salmonella is safe till the time it is in the intestinal tract of the animal. Once it enters into food supply, it can lay foundation to serious illnesses. How different countries treat salmonella is the biggest question, as this varies across the continent depending on their weather conditions.
Refrigeration is the most common method known. However, many countries continue to argue about the usefulness of this method. For American and Asian countries, refrigeration is the best way to store them.
Three reasons are cited behind it:
A) Refrigeration does not kill this bacteria, it reduces the likelihood of you becoming sick. This is because this method limits the number of bacteria.
B) Refrigeration also makes it difficult for bacteria to penetrate into the eggshell.
C) Refrigeration also increases the shelf life of an egg.
However, this needs to be done only if the eggs have been sterilized.
In India, we do not sterilize our eggs. According to Sandeep Mehta, national vice chairman, NECC, We do not need to sterilize our eggs, "In layer farming, all hens are unfertilized as there are no males. That is why the entry of salmonella bacteria is almost 0.1%". He further adds that if there is the slightest chance of salmonella in the Indian commercial bird, the best method is to boil the egg to kill the harmful bacteria.
Many European countries support this method of refrigeration. Storing eggs at room temperature is considered to be feasible. In EU countries, eggs are not sterilized and left with the cuticle (An outer covering that seals the egg and helping prevent bacteria from entering). Therefore, storing eggs at room temperature is considered to be the best option. Cross-contamination due to coming in contact with other food products is a common drawback when it comes to refrigerating eggs.
Since most refrigerators have an egg rack right at the opening of the door, temperature fluctuation due to frequent opening causes bacteria to enter. Thus, eggs should be stored somewhere deep inside the refrigerator. On the other hand, storing eggs at room temperature can decrease its shell life. This restricts the consumer as the egg will have to be consumed within 1-3 weeks. Refrigeration in India is the best way of storing eggs according to Mehta, "During winters if you store the eggs at room temperature, they will last for 7-10 days. However, during summer, this should limit to 3-4 days."
In summers, the quality of egg starts deteriorating after 4 days as the temperature can rise up to 48 degree Celsius, which is not suitable.
-TNN

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