Why Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated in the U.S., But Not in Europe

In Paris, I found it so strange that their eggs sat next to dried goods, at room temperature, since I’m used to refrigerating eggs in the U.S. We’re all concerned about the potential of Salmonella to make people sick, but the U.S. and Europe just protect against this threat in different ways.

Eggs in Europe don’t need to be refrigerated because many countries in Europe have improved sanitation methods and vaccinate against Salmonella Enteritidis, which can infect a chicken’s ovaries and contaminate the yolk. The egg has a few natural protective measures, too. Authority Nutrition notes:

While this may seem unsanitary to Americans, the logic is that the egg cuticle and shell are left undamaged, functioning as a layer of defense against bacteria. In addition to the cuticle, egg whites also have natural defenses against bacteria, which can help protect the egg for up to three weeks.

By contrast, eggshells in the U.S. are washed and disinfected, which kills any bacteria outside but does nothing to those that might already be in the yolk. This washing process is illegal in Europe and also strips the eggshell of its thin layer of protection against bacteria. The U.S. Drug and Food Administrationrequires commercially sold eggs to be stored below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. While cooking kills most bacteria, refrigeration is necessary to limit the number of Salmonella bacteria and reduce the chance of you becoming sick. Plus, once eggs are refrigerated, consistent refrigeration keeps the eggs from sweating and becoming more vulnerable to bacterial infection.