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Why should eggs be refrigerated?

In the United States, it’s more than a food safety recommendation that eggs be refrigerated – it’s the law. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determined that the best way to fight salmonella contamination is by making sure eggs are clean before they reach consumers. So, on commercial egg farms (those that have 3,000 hens or more) it is required that eggs are thoroughly washed and immediately refrigerated before they leave the farm. The washing process removes any contaminants, such as manure, with which the eggs may have come in contact. Once eggs have been refrigerated, it is critical they remain that way. A cool egg at room temperature can sweat, facilitating the growth of bacteria that could enter the egg through its porous shell. Refrigerated eggs should not be left out more than two hours.

Refrigeration also preserves egg quality. Learn more about the correlation between refrigeration and egg quality from a study by USDA Agricultural Research Service.