Supermarket giant Coles has come under fire for not keeping the eggs it sells in a refrigerated cabinet, which many believe leads to an increase in the likelihood of salmonella. With no scientific evidence to support such claims, are we putting the chicken before the egg so to speak?
I have never kept my eggs in the fridge, given that they sit on supermarket shelves (at least in the supermarkets in which I shop), I figure it’s safe to simply keep them in unrefrigerated. When I was young we used to get our eggs fresh from the farm and trust me, they were not refrigerated there, given that they were plucked from the hen coup that morning. I can also remember when fridges used to come with the little egg holders in the door shelves, an attachment that most new fridges no longer have. So, does this also mean that it’s okay not to refrigerate your eggs?
While experts have reported an increase in egg-related salmonella cases, Dr Peter Scott, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school, says storing them in refrigerated cabinets in supermarkets would make no difference. “For the limited time the eggs are stored at the supermarket unrefrigerated it is, black and white, not significant,” he said.
Salmonella, he said, is more likely to occur due to poor food handling practices in cafés and restaurants. “You need two consecutive events: an egg contaminated with salmonella and then the [growth] in a raw egg dish,” he said. “When [eggs] are made into one of these raw egg products, the replication of salmonella is very dramatic, and that’s where all the food poisoning is coming from.”
However, Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases expert at Australian National University’s medical school, suggests that we should treat eggs like raw meat and keep them refrigerated. “I’m always surprised by the lack of anxiety about this,” he said. “We ought to make the product safer, and we do that by refrigerating it, even at the supermarket.”
Coles is facing a backlash from customers, with many refusing to return until the chain adopts the same practices as its competitor, Woolworths, which stores all eggs in a chilled cabinet.
So, where do you store your eggs? Would you stop buying eggs from Coles due to non-refrigeration? Or do we simply make too much of a fuss over food storage?