Do eggs need to be kept refrigerated?

Storing eggs in the fridge helps to keep them fresh and cuts the risk from salmonella: AVA

Reader Fitzgerald Hendroff wrote in to ask if there is a need to refrigerate eggs and if there are any benefits to doing so. Food reporter Kenneth Goh finds out.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) advises consumers to keep eggs in refrigerators as this will help to keep the eggs fresh for longer.

Eggs may contain salmonella bacteria, which is a common cause of food poisoning. The bacteria is also found in raw meat, poultry, raw unwashed vegetables, unpasteurised milk and dairy products. It can also be found in the gut and faeces of animals and humans.

Salmonella can be transmitted to humans when they consume eggs contaminated by the bacteria in chicken droppings. The bacteria penetrate the egg through cracks in the shell.

The AVA routinely inspects food products - including eggs - for chemical and microbiological contaminants, and advises consumers to adopt food safety practices such as separating raw and ready-to-eat food items.
The AVA routinely inspects food products - including eggs - for chemical and microbiological contaminants, and advises consumers to adopt food safety practices such as separating raw and ready-to-eat food items. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

With salmonella, which causes food-borne illnesses, it takes 12 to 48 hours for symptoms to develop. The symptoms include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The AVA advises consumers to adopt good food safety practices, such as separating raw food - including eggs - from cooked or ready-to-eat food, since raw food may contain micro-organisms that can cause food poisoning.

Salmonella can be transmitted to humans when they consume eggs contaminated by the bacteria in chicken droppings. The bacteria penetrate the egg through cracks in the shell. With salmonella, which causes food-borne illnesses, it takes 12 to 48 hours for symptoms to develop. They include fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Another tip is to wash hands, utensils and surfaces thoroughly after handling raw food, before coming into contact with cooked and ready-to-eat food.

As part of the AVA's routine surveillance programme, food - including eggs - is subjected to regular inspections and sampling to ensure compliance with food safety standards and requirements.

The tests cover a wide range of chemical and microbiological contaminants, such as pesticide residue, drug residue- for example, antibiotics and hormones - and microbial hazards like salmonella.

Food products found to be unsafe will not be allowed for sale.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 18, 2017, with the headline 'Do eggs need to be kept refrigerated?'. Print Edition | Subscribe