Eggs are an essential part of your kitchen stash of ingredients. It’s used in a number of recipes and dishes which make it indispensable in a well-stocked kitchen.
However, we have all encountered the “dirty” egg in the egg carton and have been tempted to wash it off for fear of surface germs, bacteria, and viruses. Should you wash eggs? The simple answer might be surprising:
No, you should not wash eggs.
Unless you can safely say the water, towel, or whatever you are going to use to clean the egg is itself “clean” and free of these contaminants, you should not be washing eggs at all. This is because eggshells are porous. Despite appearances, there are actually many holes on the egg’s surface which allows the egg to basically breathe and can allow liquid or air to pass through it slowly. Washing eggs therefore may actually increase the risk of contaminating the egg within the shell.
You can argue that eggs are not laid in the most sanitary conditions. You are right, but eggs are made to be hardy in this kind of environment. This safety barrier which we know as the membrane (or the cuticle) is what keeps the egg safe in its nest on a farm. Beyond this environment is another story.
Here is what experts say, and why washing eggs is not a good idea.
According to the Egg Safety Center, eggs being sold from groceries, supermarkets, and even wholesalers have already gone through food safety standards. Eggs production facilities ensure that eggs have been washing and sanitized before it’s packed, so doing it again may compromise the eggs.
The Center for Food Safety in Hong Kong also reiterates this belief, stating that bacteria on the surface of the egg may enter through pores or cracks on shell of eggs. Just wetting the eggshell can contaminate the egg inside because water can be a carrier of bacteria and contaminants.
In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture, or the DA, has regulations ensuring that eggs being sold to consumers are “good eggs” under the Philippines National Standard for Table Eggs. There are minimum requirements for an egg to be a “good egg”, and this includes:
- • freshness of the egg which means the white is still firm and the yolk is still whole
- • no visible cracks on the eggshell
- • no foreign odors
- • must be clean
A “clean” egg is defined as “free from foreign material and stains or discolorations that are readily visible.” It also states that eggs that have small specks, marks, or stains may still be considered clean if it is minimal or “covers less than 10% of the shell’s surface”. The production of eggs in the country are also covered by an international code that monitors food hygiene and must comply with these criteria.
If you’re still insistent on washing your eggs and removing any visible stains you find on it, you can. However, washed eggs should be used immediately to avoid any bacteria from developing while in storage.
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