Why aren't eggs in Ecuador refrigerated? In this post, you'll learn how to store eggs in Ecuador and the rest of Latin America.
Why Aren't Eggs in Ecuador Refrigerated?
The short answer is that Eggs aren't refrigerated in Ecuador because it isn't necessary. In this post, you'll learn why it's different in Ecuador compared to the United States – and why both systems work.
When we first went to the supermarket in Ecuador, we were surprised to see how the eggs were stored: on the shelf (unrefrigerated) across from the potato chips.
From supermarkets to the local tienda, eggs are stored at room temperature. At first, we were concerned about the safety of this. But we reasoned that if it works for millions of Ecuadorians, it will work for us too. And it did.
Did you know? Did you know that in most other countries of the world, eggs are stored at room temperature, alongside non-perishable food?
The cleanliness and quality of eggs in Ecuador is not consistent. We've bought eggs that range from completely covered in poop and blood to eggs that were spotless and perfectly shaped.
Why Some Countries Refrigerate Their Eggs And Others Don't
Read more about living in Ecuador.
The eggs, as pictured above, are not typical of eggs in Ecuador. While the eggs sold at the corner tienda (convenience store) commonly have chicken poop on them, they seldom have feathers.
Do Eggs Have To Be Refrigerated?
The short answer is no, eggs don't have to be refrigerated. But it depends on a few factors.
At issue is salmonella poisoning (salmonellosis).
How Eggs Get Contaminated with Salmonella
Eggs get contaminated by salmonella in two 2 ways:
- Internally, by an infected hen
- Externally, by manure (chicken poop)
In the United States and Canada (among other countries), to avoid seeing poop on our eggs, we wash and dry them to prevent any possible contamination from external sources of salmonella.
While this helps fix one problem, there are downsides. Eggs have a cuticle – a natural, protective barrier of proteins and other molecules that keep bacteria like salmonella from getting through the porous shell and contaminating the yolk and white. When the egg is washed, it removes both the chicken poop and the protective cuticle, according to lifehacker.com
In parts of Europe, and many other parts of the world, egg washing is banned. This maintains the protective cuticle and keeps the egg from becoming contaminated by an outside source. They work hard to keep the egg clean (poop-free) after it is laid.
They also vaccinate their hens against salmonella, preventing the egg from being contaminated while they are forming.
From what I've read, it is more likely that American (and Canadian) eggs will have salmonella because not all hens are vaccinated against it. As a result, we have to keep the eggs refrigerated (from farm to store to our homes) to slow the growth of the salmonella bacteria. NY Times reported in 2010 that one half to two-thirds of American farmers voluntarily inoculate their flocks.
How Refrigerating Your Eggs Helps Keep You Healthy
Studies have shown that bacteria on contaminated eggs (internal or external) reach dangerous levels after 3 weeks at room temperature.
But if you refrigerate that same egg, the bacteria will hardly grow at all even after 6 weeks.
How to Store Eggs in Ecuador and Latin America
During our time in Ecuador, we stored our unwashed eggs in the fridge. We figured that this would slow any bacteria growth that was on the egg.
And while that worked fine, there is an argument for not refrigerating unwashed eggs. Because they are contaminated with abundant bacteria, any condensation on the egg could cause a significant problem.
As with any cool object in a humid environment, water will condense on a refrigerated egg that's left on the counter. This excessive moisture can cause bacteria overgrowth and could allow contamination of the egg, through the outer shell.
“Once you start refrigeration, you have to have it through the whole value chain, from farm to store. Because if you stop — if the eggs are cold and you put them in a warm environment — they're going to start sweating,” says Vincent Guyonnet, a poultry veterinarian and scientific adviser to the International Egg Commission.
5 Tips For Storing Eggs in Ecuador
Here are some tips to keep you healthy while eating eggs in Latin America.
- Don't wash your eggs until you are ready to use them.
- Keep unrefrigerated eggs at room temperature.
- Don't leave refrigerated eggs at room temperature. Condensation can cause problems with bacterial growth.
- Buy your eggs from a busy tienda. Tiendas that don't sell much volume might have old stock. And while that's okay for chips and pop – it could be a problem for eggs.
- Float test your eggs to see how fresh they are. “If you aren’t sure how old an egg is, you can submerge it in water. The freshest eggs will remain at the bottom of the container, while old eggs will float. Floaters should either be discarded or opened far from your nose.” – via BackyardChickens.com
And for the final word, here's a video that answers the question:
Should You Store Eggs in the Fridge?
Do you refrigerate eggs in your home country? Do you have a tip or story to share? Please join us in the comments!