Stop refrigerating your damn eggs

Myanmar eggs are a hygiene roulette and putting them in the fridge only makes things worse.

By JARED DOWNING | FRONTIER

I’M WRITING this for my housemates who keep putting my fresh eggs in the fridge despite the fact that I’ve asked them multiple times not to and that every time you do, Gerdie and Scott, you’re buying me a hot ticket to Salmonella Town. 

Look, I get it. Refrigerating food makes it last longer. In fact, in the United States, people do refrigerate eggs. But in America eggs are washed and sanitised, which makes the shells perfectly clean and whiter than the Wonderfruit festival. It also destroys a natural biofilm, called a cuticle, which stops germs from entering the egg through the tiny pores in the shell. 

But in Myanmar (as in Europe) eggs are minimally treated. They basically plop out of the chicken and straight into the egg truck. This leaves the cuticle (the natural germ defence) intact. In fact, in Europe it’s actually illegal for farms to wash their eggs. 

Which is why, Gerdie, it blows my mind that you, from Germany, can’t accept that I don’t want my damn eggs on the shelf next to your soy milk and Spy brand wine coolers. 

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“Oh, but Myanmar eggs are not like in ze Deutschland! Ze are so dirty here!” you say.

On one hand, you’re not wrong. Dr Olivier (the French physician at the Samitivej International Clinic) once told me the reason I kept getting sick might be because of the local eggs. He said Europe and even other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand have strict poultry farming regulations that keep their chickens largely Salmonella free.

Myanmar eggshells? Not so much. And refrigerating them actually increases the odds of getting food poisoning. This is because when you take the eggs into room temperature again, two things happen: The pores dilate and the shell “sweats” (i.e., water condenses on it), which basically flushes germs into the yolk. 

Think about it: by the time you purchase a pack of eggs at City Mart, they’ve spent at least a week in barns, on trucks and on the supermarket shelf. If those eggs were going to give you a tummy bug, your little 100-watt mini fridge sure as hell isn’t going to stop them. 

Dr Olivier was wrong, of course. It wasn’t the eggs making me sick at that time in late 2016; it was because Trump had just won the American election and I was getting white-girl-wasted at 50th Street Bar three times a week. But he had a point, and for this column, he supplied a few egg hygiene tips: 

  • Buy organically produced or free-range eggs. (Olivier prefers Sharky’s eggs or local market eggs from small farms.) 
  • After you crack the eggs, keep the shell away from the yolk. 
  • Wash your hands after handling eggs. 

You don’t have to believe me, Scott and Gerdie. But at least let’s have an open conversation about it instead of just passive-aggressively putting my eggs in that Hitachi-brand death box. 

Oh, and you forgot to take the garbage out again. 

By Jared Downing

By Jared Downing

Jared Downing is an American journalist from Colorado and Alabama. He likes podcasts, radio theatre and hitchhiking and collects cans of sardines from around the world.
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