If you’ve traveled around the world, you may have noticed that the U.S. is one of the few countries that refrigerates eggs. And the reason is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1970 started requiring egg producers to wash those eggs before selling them.
Because the local food movement really took off after the 1970 ruling, the debate over whether to wash eggs is something you might want to more information about. Here’s what you need to know!
First, unwashed eggs are safe to store at room temperature. Washed eggs must be refrigerated. And once an egg has been refrigerated it should be kept refrigerated until it is ready to be eaten.
This is because washing an egg removes the membrane coating around it called a “bloom.” That bloom helps protect the egg from bacteria.
The unwashed egg benefits from that natural protection. But the washed egg has a longer shelf life when refrigerated properly: 50 days compared to about 21 days for an unwashed, unrefrigerated egg. Washed or unwashed, either egg is delicious!
If you’re raising chickens at home and you want to wash your eggs, use water that is at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the egg. Washing eggs in cool water can actually create a vacuum effect which can pull unwanted bacteria inside the egg even faster.