If you’re from Europe or other parts of the world, the idea of refrigerating eggs might sound weird. But in North America, it’s more common than you can imagine. So, do Canadian eggs need to be refrigerated?
As a general rule, Canadian eggs should be refrigerated due to the cleaning process they go through after being hatched. But this only applies to industrial eggs. Eggs bought from farmers’ markets or laid by chickens on your farm may not require refrigeration. Refrigeration has its pros and cons.
The essence of refrigerating eggs is to minimize the risk of food poisoning. But you also have to refrigerate properly so that the eggs can be in great condition. Here, we discuss why Canadian eggs need to be refrigerated, tips for refrigerating your eggs, and the pros and cons of refrigeration.
Why do Canadians Refrigerate their Eggs?
Egg refrigeration is a common occurrence in Canada and the United States. This is traceable to salmonella, which causes bacterial food poisoning. Salmonella can be common on poultry farms and can easily attach itself to the egg’s outer part due to feces and dirt contamination. At times, salmonella could even be inside the eggshell in cases where the bacteria infect the hen’s ovary.
In order to combat this problem, authorities in the US and Canada have adopted egg washing. This is a process where eggs are shampooed using hot water and soap. The power washing usually cleans off all traces of organic matter and harmful bacteria from the egg. But it also strips the outer coating (cuticle) of the egg that gives it protection. Without this protection, the egg is vulnerable to contamination as it’ll be porous. Even though most commercial operations apply a synthetic coating, it still requires refrigeration to be in good condition.
In other countries, egg washing isn’t a practice. In some countries, it’s even completely illegal for producers to wash the egg. This means the cuticle stays intact, and the egg is fully protected. So there’s no need for refrigerating. In Europe, for example, the focus is more on vaccinating the chickens to protect them from salmonella.
Pros of Refrigerating Eggs
There are advantages to refrigerating eggs. They include:
1. Longer shelf life
Refrigerated eggs can last for a longer period than normal eggs. Eggs on the counter are only good for about 21 days. In the fridge, they can last for as many as 50 days. After 21 days, the normal eggs kept at room temperature lose the effectiveness of their natural defences. At this point, you can extend the shelf life a little by storing it in the refrigerator. But it can’t compare to the ones that have been in the fridge from the onset.
Refrigerating also protects the eggs from any infection or food poisoning, ensuring they stay in good condition till you want to use them. The protection is the primary reason Canadian eggs need to be refrigerated.
Cons of Refrigerating Eggs
There are a few notable disadvantages to refrigerating eggs. They are:
1. Eggs May Absorb Odours of Other Food Items
Refrigerating could lead to eggs absorbing the odour and flavour of other items stored in the fridge. This could lead to a change in the taste of the egg if the exposure lasts for a long time. You can avoid this by not storing smelly foods along with the eggs in the fridge. Also, properly storing the eggs in tightly sealed packs might help prevent this.
2. Mildew Growth
Refrigerated eggs are at risk of mildew growth which causes bacterial contamination. This can happen if the eggs sweat and return to normal room temperature. Thus, refrigerated eggs must stay refrigerated to limit bacterial infection.
3. Fluctuation in Temperature Could Affect Eggs Quality
When storing eggs in a fridge, most people mistakenly put the eggs in the fridge door. The recurrent opening and closing of the door usually cause the temperature to fluctuate. This leads to bacterial growth on the egg, which affects the protective covering on the egg. So, if you want to store any type of eggs in the fridge, make sure it’s in the deeper parts of the refrigerator.
4. Cold Eggs Aren’t Best for Baking
While a regular egg eater might not tell the difference between refrigerated and farm eggs, some chefs claim there is. Thus, chefs advise that you let room temperature eggs be best for baking. So, if you’re going to use a refrigerated egg, you should leave it at room temperature for not more than two hours before use.
Can You Get Unwashed Eggs in Canada?
Even though Canadian eggs are washed and refrigerated, you can still get unwashed eggs in the country. Just go to the farmers market, and you’ll find normal room temperature eggs. They’re usually unwashed with the cuticles still intact. Of course, you can put these types of eggs in the fridge too. But if you put unwashed eggs in the fridge, keep them there until you want to use them. Another way to fresh farm eggs in Canada would be to raise the chicken yourself or buy from a farmer who does.
Grade of Eggs in Canada
Apart from those purchased directly from farms or farmers’ markets, all eggs in Canada are grade A eggs. Grade A means they are subject to food safety standards, which is what grocery stores in the country sell. If you don’t know whether an egg is graded, you can check the carton for the maple leaf symbol or just ask the vendor.
Tips for keeping Canadian Eggs in Good Condition
- Eggs should be the last thing you buy when you go to the grocery store so that they can stay cold until you put them in the refrigerator.
- Both cooked and raw Canadian eggs shouldn’t be at room temperature for more than two hours.
- Eggs should be in the coldest part of the refrigerator and kept inside a carton.
- Hard-boiled eggs can be in the fridge for up to 1 week
- You shouldn’t freeze eggs in the shell if you plan to keep them for more than 4-5 weeks. In this case, it’s best to crack and pour into a freezer-safe container where you can keep it for a longer time
- Even though you can keep eggs refrigerated indefinitely, it’s not advisable as the quality starts declining after a while.
Canadian eggs have to be refrigerated in food safety rules in the country. However, this only applies to industrially produced eggs. The farm-produced eggs don’t have to be in the fridge, but if you want to extend their shelf life, it’s better to keep them in the refrigerator than at room temperature.