Should US Eggs Not Be Refrigerated?

Dr. Health Magazine website advertised a picture of eggs in a refrigerator overlaid with a red warning "X."

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eggs shouldnt be refrigerated dr health magazine refrigerator salmonella fda
Image via Engin_Akyurt (Pixabay)

Claim

Eggs shouldn't be refrigerated in the United States.

Rating

Origin

In March 2021, a colorful advertisement appeared on websites that displayed ads from the Taboola advertising network. The text of the ad read: “35 Foods That Should Never Be Placed in the Refrigerator.” It showed a picture of eggs in a refrigerator overlaid with a large, red “X.” This seemed to imply that eggs shouldn’t be refrigerated.

eggs shouldnt be refrigerated dr health magazine refrigerator salmonella fda
Eggs never even appeared in the resulting 35-page story. We happily saved you 35 clicks.

Readers who clicked the ad were led to a 35-page slideshow article. It mentioned 35 products that supposedly shouldn’t be refrigerated.

However, eggs never showed up in the story. The ad was nothing but clickbait.

The Dr. Health Magazine website did not list any medical professionals on its staff. The copyright date in the footer of the story was last updated in 2017. It did not appear to be a trustworthy source of information regarding health and well-being.

Should Eggs Be Refrigerated?

In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule to egg handlers. The announcement read as follows on the FDA website:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a regulation expected to prevent each year approximately 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis.

The regulation requires preventive measures during the production of eggs in poultry houses and requires subsequent refrigeration during storage and transportation.

Egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella is a serious public health problem. Infected individuals may suffer mild to severe gastrointestinal illness, short-term or chronic arthritis, or even death. Implementing the preventive measures would reduce the number of Salmonella Enteritidis infections from eggs by nearly 60 percent.

The rule requires that measures designed to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis be adopted by virtually all egg producers with 3,000 or more laying hens whose shell eggs are not processed with a treatment, such as pasteurization, to ensure their safety.

The FDA also advised that eggs should be stored “promptly in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.”

According to The New York Times, the reason some other countries don’t advise citizens to refrigerate eggs comes down to one thing: In the U.S., many eggs are washed at egg-production facilities to ward off salmonella concerns:

Washing the eggs also cleans off a thin, protective cuticle devised by nature to protect bacteria from getting inside the egg in the first place. (The cuticle also helps keep moisture in the egg.)

With the cuticle gone, it is essential — and, in the United States, the law — that eggs stay chilled from the moment they are washed until you are ready to cook them. Japan also standardized a system of egg washing and refrigeration after a serious salmonella outbreak in the 1990s.

In sum, Dr. Health Magazine appeared to mislead readers by using a picture of eggs in its advertisement. The FDA has strongly advised that people living in the United States should keep their eggs refrigerated.