I usually don’t wash my eggs until I am ready to use them unless it’s been raining and they are dirty.   I have done extensive research  before making this decision and realized that they stayed fresh much longer if unwashed whether they were refrigerated or not.

There is a great article on this in Countryside Magazine explaining how to wash chicken eggs safely when it’s absolutely necessary.  Polish chicks

The biggest health risk associated with eggs is being exposed toSalmonella bacteria. Most types of Salmonella grow in the intestinal tracts of animals and are passed through their feces. Most humans become infected with Salmonella after eating foods that are directly or indirectly contaminated with animal feces. With chicken eggs, the eggshell is exposed to Salmonella usually after the egg has been laid as a result of poor animal management practices (i.e. the bird is living in a feces infested condition) and not necessarily from backyard chickens.

f eggs can get dirty after being laid, it logically makes sense to wash them, right? Washing fresh eggs will help eliminate the risk of contamination, right? Wrong.

Eggshells are almost entirely composed of tiny calcium carbonate crystals. Though an eggshell appears solid to the naked eye, it has as many as 8,000 microscopic pores between the crystals forming the shell. These tiny pores allow for the transfer of moisture, gases and bacteria (e.g.Salmonella) between the inner and outer eggshell.

Nature has provided an efficient and effective defense against contamination through the pores in an eggshell. Just prior to laying an egg, a hen’s body deposits a protein-like mucous coating on the outside of an egg. This protective coating is called the “bloom” or “cuticle.”  This protective coating seals the pores of the eggshell, thereby prohibiting the transfer of bacteria from the exterior to the interior of the egg.

Here’s the rub. An egg’s bloom remains intact so long as the egg is not washed. No matter if you think you know how to wash fresh eggs, just the act of rinsing or washing an egg removes this protective layer and re-opens the eggshell’s pores.

Interestingly, the United States is one of the only countries in the world that requires the washing of commercially produced eggs and has spent vast resources in developing methods for how to wash fresh eggs. The vast majority of our European counterparts legally restrict commercially produced eggs from being washed. In Ireland, for example, only unwashed eggs can achieve Grade A or AA. Washed eggs, under Ireland’s Food Safety regulations, receive a B grading and cannot be sold at retail.

Also noteworthy is the fact that an egg with its bloom left on does not need to be refrigerated.  For more information on this subject, check my article Should Eggs be Refrigerated.   This is the reason that most Europeans do not keep their eggs in the fridge but rather on the counter.

If keeping the natural bloom on the eggshell is ideal, then it is important to try to produce as of clean eggs as possible. For anyone who is raising chickens for egg, there are a few ways to minimize contamination.  You can see the entire article HERE at Countryside Magazine.

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