For most living in the United States, washed, refrigerated eggs are the norm and are actually considered safer by most people. What if I told you that’s not how most of the world does it? What if I told you that it’s actually safer to leave them unwashed and unchilled?
It’s actually unlawful in Europe to wash eggs and there’s good reason for it.
I live in Mexico and one of the first things I noticed at the grocery stores here is that they do not refrigerate the eggs. They’re sold on a shelf with dry goods generally, like sugar or canned milk products. There are many options from tiny spotted ones to big brown ones, but they’re unwashed and unchilled.
There’s much less regulation on the egg industry here, even though factory farming exists here as well. The eggs I buy from Walmart are unwashed and unchilled, coming in irregular shapes and sizes with little bits of feather here and there. This is the norm here and it’s the better way to do things.
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The FDA cites that eggs need to be sterilized and chilled to reduce the chance of salmonella making its way into the eggs. Many sources online will tell you that it actually has to do with the way factory farming is done in the states.
Though it has less to do with the factory farming itself, but more with how they go about it. Europe has placed an emphasis on producing cleaner eggs that just do not need to be washed, whereas American chicken factory farms are known for being filthy at best.
Much of the world is very similar to Mexico and Europe in that their eggs are not refrigerated either. With the way they farm and process eggs, they really don’t have issues with sickness related to the eggs, certainly not anymore than in the states.
After living in Mexico for more than a year, I can say the eggs are not lower quality and they’re actually much cheaper and higher quality. There’s something charming about opening a dozen of store-bought eggs to find a feather stuck to one or even a spot of mud, in my opinion.
For those living in the states, don’t go pulling the eggs out of your refrigerator. Doing that could actually cause problems and make it so you actually get sick. With the cuticle washed off and the egg shocked back to room temperature, it’s easy for bacteria to move through the porous shell.
Luckily, you’ve got options for solutions to this problem:
Find a farmer that doesn’t wash or chill their eggs, and keep them that way once they’re home. Get some chickens and produce your own, keeping them unwashed and unchilled. Or you could move to a place like Mexico, where keeping eggs au natural is the normal way to do things. Regardless of how you handle it, what’s important is that you are aware of the situation. Eggs are not meant to be washed or chilled before storage! If you buy them chilled they need to remain that way, the only way is to find an alternate source.
Thanks for reading and supporting us, until next time!
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Hi! How long can they stay on the counter for?
3 weeks for sure
If you have your own chickens you can keep the eggs on the counter for 28 days for sure.
After that the quality becomes poorer.
old egg. After boiling and taking the shell off you notice in older eggs this often goes with more effort (sorry my native language is not english = netherlands). I usually do not have them on the counter longer than at the most 2 weeks. All gone by then.
Never apologize about your English! It is beautiful. I can’t speak yours at all and know a only a splash of Spanish. I admire you!
30 days, unwashed, non-chilled.
I agree with this – you can float them in water to see if they are still good, if they float they are bad, if they sink they are good! If they lay sideways they are FRESH!
Thank you all for your responses!! 🙂
What’s wrong with unwashed but chilled?
Chilled in the refridgerator they can dry out
I never wash them, but must chill them because room temperature here in the coast of Costa Rica makes them hatch on my counter!!!
That is nice to know meaning it is the same here in Denmark in the summertime. If, naturally a roaster has been involved.
Amazing! Eggs stored on the counter hatching o
Because the hot, humid temperature is just
Right for the little chix to emerge! Makes you
think closer about that kind of storage in So.
California if you’re a vegetarian
that also eats eggs…like me!
Um, no. Eggs cannot hatch unless they’ve been fertilized by a rooster. The eggs you buy have typically been “candled” to ensure there is no embryo inside. If there is no rooster present, there is no chance of fertilization. Birds and bees. 🙂
Candling eggs does not ensure they are not fertile. A fresh fertile egg will have a *microscopic* embryo, not visible to the naked eye. Chickens are much smaller than humans, and even with humans, you cannot see the embryo the first few days. Yes, you need a rooster, but candling is for quality and to make sure a partially developed egg isn’t sold, it doesn’t prevent fertile eggs being sold.
Happy side note, I have 4 eggs under my hen about to hatch. One pipped this morning and is peeping it’s head off!
I agree with you that, if you buy them from a farmer that follows the best practices like candling, that should never happen, but if the farmer doesn’t care, it is possible that the situation can happen.
Jeff, Carla may be talking about ‘home grown’ eggs, where there is a rooster present?
I have my own chooks but no rooster, so no fertilized eggs. 🙂
Some people actually think that a rooster is needed for the hens to produce eggs.
No one goes to all the trouble to candle eggs for eating. Just hatching eggs. So no, the eggs you buy to eat are not candled.
I ran a grocery store back in the early 2000’s and we had a guy from the government come in every so many months and candled our eggs (they were from a wholesaler). He stated that the wholesaler had to candle a percentage of their eggs but he was sent out to double check.
Um, Yes. The OP ‘s comment referred to unwashed and chilled. Unwashed would mean they are fresh, not store bought eggs. If they have hatched on the OP’s counter there was a rooster involved. Washing store bought eggs would be weird and hatching without a rooster is impossible. I personally, do unwashed, wiped off in needed, and chilled. I have roosters and don’t want any counter top accidents. Saw one of those many years ago. Don’t want to see it again.
Thankyou Carla, same here, Portugal.
We ( I am an American and my wife is Dutch) live on the south coast of Turkey and have 4 hens but no rooster. (He was such an agressive old boy that he was always all over the ladies, so we gave him to our neighbor for soup. So my question is: Does it matter if the eggs are fertilized or not? Since we have no rooster our eggs are not fertile – we don’t wash our eggs, but do keep them in the refrigerator. Another question: Do unrefrigerated eggs taste any better…?
I think refrigerated tastes better! and the only difference is that at 100 degrees your eggs will not turn into chicks.
Fertile eggs are supposed to be healthier and one doctor told me they have less of the bad cholesterol. Room temperature definitely makes a difference in storing eggs on the counter. Even so, there has to be a balance because refrigeration also affects the quality of food. Fresh is always better.
Because you don’t have a rooster, you don’t have to worry about your eggs hatching. They can develop if the haven’t been fertilized. As far as taste goes, I recommend leaving some of the counter and some in the refrigerator. Cook one from the refrigerator and then one from the counter and conduct your own taste test to decide which you like better.
We have our own hens and know better than to wash them, but I was refrigerating them. Guess I can stop that.
I still refrigerate ours as well. Even without washing, they last longer and stay fresher when refrigerated. Leaving them unwashed just means it’s not as important for food safety.
Please add why eggs can go unwashed. The cuticle, a protective layer on the outside, helps the egg to stay fresh. Washed eggs lose that cuticle and allow more air and pathogens in. Also, it’s interesting to note that an average incubating egg takes 21 days and usually that’s when you will see an egg starting to float. I raise my own chickens and try to explain this to people that I give/sell them to.
Thank you for posting this. I’m super tired at the moment and couldn’t get my brain to put a post together explaining this lol
I was very surprised there was no explanation in the article for why the eggs aren’t washed. We have a small flock chickens for eggs. We do not refrigerate them or wash them. We do wash them when we are ready to use them. We don’t want dirt, poop or feathers, etc. to drop in what were cooking. Just the way its done around here.
What about if they have chicken poop on them? Still ok to not wash them. I don’t wash ours unless they have poop on them. I mainly refrigerate mine, but don’t always do it right away…
2 choices, leave the poop and wash right before you use them or wash and put immediately in the refrigerator.
In the USA now regulations are several angles, now the cause of SE has been for most part eliminated / Rodents cannot get into the feed silo’s this was one major change, next was Vet’s testing Layer hens for infections treating if possible destroying entire flocks if nessary, some large producers hold the eggs few days then test the hens for example, the shells from producers are Washed in sterilization bath and sealed in mineral oil, also major problem in past was Human contamination thus packers cannot even own birds and now vet’s are on staff of many / you… Read more »
We have chickens. What constitutes “washing”? If you run them under the water to clean of stuff is that cleaning or is washing referring to using chemicals? To disenfect?
Even just running them under water without any soap strips away at minimum some of the protective cuticle from the egg. Once that has been removed, it is easier for pathogens to enter.
Citation? You claim safer/healthier/better … so… actual scientific studies, please? Anecdotal evidence is not science fact …
The cuticle, or “bloom” is an antibacterial layer placed on the outside of the shell by the hen when laying. This protects the eggs from infection during the 21 days it takes to hatch. This layer gets washed off in most USA farms, leaving the porous shell with no protection. To put it in a larger easier to understand way, it’s kind of like ripping the scab off a wound that’s not ready- the scab is put there by our bodies to protect the open wound from infection, removing the scab opens the wound up to anything airborn or contact.… Read more »
I have to chill mine. I would have a noticeable chick in 7 days and a feathered hatched chick in 30. Can’t replace the flock without a rooster. We do not wash though, just touch up with sandpaper if needed.
Sandpaper also take the bloom off in that spot!! Allowing the egg to deteriorate. I have had in counter for 6 weeks and been fine to use!
Wait, you don’t have a rooster, yet you have chicks in your eggs? I think you have a cross dressing chicken then, you cannot have chicks without a rooster, not possible. Also, it only takes a chicken egg 21 days to hatch, how are you getting eggs with chicks still in them at 30 days?? This doesn’t add up!
I brush mine off but occasionally have to wash them. If an egg is so dirty it needs washing then it becomes a doggy treat and not for humans because I can not be sure if or when bacteria has penetrated the shell after washing. So, I play it safe. My hens are healthy and I keep records of coop cleaning etc so I am not concerned about salmonella , however I stil refrigerate my eggs in an abundance of caution, mainly because SC has a very long ‘hot’ season. We’ve had 80 degree days in January!
I used to raise eggs on the farm and a publication I received from the Alberta agricultural arm of the government taught that if you did wash eggs what are you washed in actually had to be colder than the eggs. otherwise bacteria can enter into the shell and therefore into the egg. I never refrigerated my eggs but I kept them in a cool dark place easily for up to a month. FYI we had 300 laying hens at a time
I did not find this article to be particularly informative. You said it’s better to leave them unwashed and not chilled, but you really did not give any reason for this other than “the rest of the world does it this way and it’s better” WHY is it better? What are the benefits of leaving them at room temp? What are the benefits of not washing? You say that you find them to be higher quality, how so? Did you have them tested for nutritional value or are you basing this solely on your flavor preference? I’m not saying I… Read more »
By washing them you expose them to bacteria, etc… and you HAVE to chill them.
I agree! I learned more by reading the comments.
Read the comments, someone explained. There is a “cuticle” that protects the eggs and washing removes it. Someone said store-bought eggs MUST be refrigerated because the cuticle has already been washed away.
If I wash mine I coat them with mineral oil, does this help?
What makes them more nutritional than chilled
I think it is important to note that in several European countries, chickens are routinely vaccinated against salmonella. This reduces the occurrence of salmonella poisoning. So there is a little more background to how eggs are handled in other countries that should be considered. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/poultry-vaccinations-credited-for-uks-big-drop-in-salmonella/#.WTlYZk2GMuQ
I just realized that with our own chickens and their eggs, we never washed them. We did put them in the fridge, but I didn’t wash them until I used them. And sometimes just wiping them off with a wet towel. Of course, we have a few chickens that like to lay them in mud sometimes after the rain. Those we wash and use right away. It just goes to show that if you can have your own fresh eggs from your own chickens in your own yard it is a lot healthier for you.
I can do this for my chicken eggs
But what about the duck eggs. No matter how often I change the bedding they still have poop smeared all over them.
I live in AZ USA and have not put my eggs in the fridge for over 2 yrs now, I buy in bulk and they sit on the counter.. 2 weeks at a time .. No sickness in me or my family
I discovered this when I was living on boats in the 80’s; the icebox space was premium on an ocean crossing, and eggs, if unwashed & unchilled, could be stowed with, as you say, dry goods. I think I remember hearing they would remain good for 2 weeks this way, but would last a month(?) in the fridge. The trick is to have chickens yourself, if possible. They will eat all your scrap veggies & fruits, as well as keep bugs down in your yard.
Bought eggs from local on May 6. They have been in fridge ever since , over a month. Are they still good? Trying to change to better eating.
I never got sick off my eggs. I store them in hanging baskets; I wash them just before I use them. I don’t refrigderate them. I do make sure to rotate them out- first in first eaten.
I have 5 hens and 1 rooster, my eggs are fertile, I don’t refrigerate my eggs, I sell on average 2 dozen a week. I don’t wash my eggs either, I keep them at room temperature and have never gotten sick from my eggs!
Refrigerated eggs? Now that is something new to me! Here is South Africa you buy your eggs off the shelf. Never seen a cold egg in my life! So bizarre!
My mother was a home economics teacher and a fantastic chef. We live in the United States where are eggs are refrigerated so she always brought them to room temperature before she cooked with them because they blended into recipes so much better. I remember the souffles and other foods but especially and they made better cakes and baked goods. I remember her telling me how lucky I was to be able to buy the eggs not refrigerated when I lived in France for two years.
I buy farm fresh eggs, when ever possible. I wipe them off, but not wash them. Living in a farming area I can usually find farm fresh. I enjoy the difference in taste.
So if you live in New York City and your eggs come from someplace in Pennsylvania, gets collected, packages, truck to the city, distributed and finally put out on the shelves, un-chilled and dirty, do you really think they will sell ? Let us be realistic. Not everyone lives in small town with poultry near by.
This might be heresy but I have washed my chicken’s eggs with hot water and anti-bacterial soap and then refrigerated them over the course of 15+ years. My wife and I enjoy their taste and color and we’ve never had a problem with any kind of contamination. No one who has eaten any of these eggs has ever gotten sick from eating them.
Whoa. That is extreme, imho.
We take a wet paper towel and wipe off any obvious dirt or poop and then refrigerate them but —no offense—-what you do seems so extreme.
I was told that the difference was that you have to either vaccinate the hen or refrigerate the egg. In the USA we don’t vaccinate the hen and other countries vaccinate.
Uuuuum, HAha! I live in Europe, I buy eggs both in the stores and Homegrown from several different neighbors. It is NOT against the law to refrigerate here in fact quite the opposite!!! LOL That’s hilarious!!! All of my neighbors wash and refrigerate… Because of the risk of salmonella…
Did you know that salmonella is much more prevalent in Mexico than in the US???
Yeah, right…. everything is better in Mexico (Canada, Europe, etc…)… Never mind everyone is running around with the squirts below the border. Ever heard of Montezuma’s Revenge? You must realize that people develop immunity to pathogens when constantly exposed to them. The Mexicans may not get sick eating a chicken-crap-covered egg – but someone without this immunity can get deathly ill. You guys are loco.
In many Third world Nations refrigeration is a luxury. Farmers collect the eggs unrefrigerated and set them out in the hot sun for sale to the first bidder. But once you wash the eggs you must take precautions for health reasons. I have this aversion to eating eggs that have been “charged” by the rooster and avoid eating eggs where the rooster has open visitation rights the hens. You bring to two sexes together when you intend to raise baby chicks.
Real health hazard is situation in areas where majority of people come from third world conditions but food is regulated by US. I am referring to US territories like Guam. The eggs are washed but sit out in 90 degree weather. Comments are correct, if you wash they must be refrigerated. Natural preservative before hatching. Did you ever wonder how a hen lays maybe 10 eggs before she starts setting and the chicks all hatch the same day? The earlier ones must be protected from elements before she sets. My mother explained this to me 50 years ago, I assumed… Read more »
I have read on other sites that once an egg has been chilled it should not be stored on the counter. For this reason I refrigerate in the colder months because I usually cannot collect immediately after they are laid. Would you agree with this?
“There’s something charming about opening a dozen of store-bought eggs to find a feather stuck to one or even a spot of mud, in my opinion.”
This seems fairly weird, too each his own I guess. But I have to say that’s not mud, in my opinion lol!
I live in Europe, and they were always in fridge in the stores, I am 37 and never saw eggs in any store out of fridge in my country and nearby countries… I’m buying always from farmers that have free chickens in 100 m2 out all day and fed with natural food, they always put eggs in the fridge after collecting…well that is South-East Europe, maybe in Norway and Nordic countries etc they live it out of the fridge … But yes, they are almost never washed, if they are free-range.
I have my own hens I do not wash or refrigerate them unless someone else wants them. I’m in they city and people don’t get that fresh eggs are so much better.