Think about the last carton of eggs you bought – were they kept in the fridge, or on the shelf? If it’s the latter, then egg producers are worried that their products could cause you harm.
Brian Ahmed, president of the egg group at the Victorian Farmers Federation, told Fairfax media that supermarkets and grocery stores were the “missing link” in making sure eggs get safely from the barn door to a person’s plate.
He said that keeping eggs in cold storage in-store was crucial in the prevention of salmonella infection, which can cause serious illness and even death. New data shows that salmonella infection is on the rise, with the summer months being a peak danger period, Fairfax reports. Up to 40 per cent of salmonella infections are caused by eggs.
“It is a priority. We’ve seen lots of outbreaks. We should be doing multiple things to try and prevent salmonella occurring.
“[Eggs] should be treated exactly like raw meat – don’t look at an egg any different way,” he said.
Australian eggs are washed, inspected for cracks, graded and kept in cool rooms on farms before being transported in refrigerated trucks, all in order to reduce the chances of bacteria, which occurs in the faeces of the birds, from surviving.
However, once they reach retail outlets, there’s no rule that says eggs much be stored in the fridge.
While most salmonella outbreaks occur at restaurants and involve raw-egg foods like tiramisu or mayonnaise, a study by the Australian Egg Corporation study found that inappropriate storage in supermarkets and grocers can substantially increase the risk of salmonella with bacterial growth occurring within 10 days in eggs stored at 22 degrees. Eggs typically have a shelf-life of 37 days, meaning the chances of this happening are quite high.
When asked by Fairfax about the practice of storing eggs on the shelf, Coles said, “Coles adheres to all health and safety regulations regarding egg storage.”
Meanwhile, Woolworths is moving all eggs into refrigerated cabinets across all stores. Independent grocers IGA advise franchisees to store eggs below 5 degrees, but could not confirm compliance.