Eggs in the US are sold under refrigeration, but that’s not the case in many other countries. People who have their own chickens also sometimes leave the eggs outside of the refrigerator until they’re ready to cook with them. What’s the deal? Do we really need to refrigerate eggs? Here’s the breakdown.
If you have your own backyard chickens and can confirm the health of the chickens and the cleanliness of the coop, your unwashed eggs should be OK to leave out for several days. The reason is that eggs have a “bloom,” or natural coating, that keeps out air and bacteria. Once eggs are washed, that coating is removed and it becomes easier for bacteria to penetrate the inside of the egg, and thus refrigeration is necessary to keep them fresh.
As for store-bought eggs in the US, you need to refrigerate them. American egg producers wash eggs to make sure the shells are clean and that there’s a decreased risk of salmonella. Thus the protective coating is removed before the eggs arrive in grocery stores. “The USDA requires that eggs destined for supermarket shelves — called graded eggs — are washed and sprayed with a chemical sanitizer before they are sold to the public to reduce the risk of salmonella infection,” Business Insider reports. Other countries do not wash their eggs, which is why you’ll see them for sale near other unrefrigerated items.
Of course, to be safe, you can always choose to refrigerate your eggs no matter what. If an egg sits out at room temperature for a day, that’s roughly the equivalent of seven days in the fridge, so you have to eat them more quickly. But as always, the fresher the eggs, the better they’ll taste.