Eggs in Todos Santos are stacked alongside fruit and vegetables at San Ignacio’s produce stand. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Refrigerated eggs? Not in Mexico. Not in most countries.

The United States requires all egg producers with more than 3,000 hens to wash eggs with soap, enzymes or chlorine. Then they must be refrigerated until used by the consumer. Washing the egg removes a protective layer that is naturally there to keep bacteria (think salmonella) from getting into the egg.

The European Union believes the protective layer is more than sufficient to ward off contamination. In fact, EU rules ban egg washing.

Japan and Australia are two other countries requiring egg washing before they reach a store.

It’s important to keep washed eggs refrigerated eggs because they can sweat at room temperature or higher. That creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

An advantage to refrigerated eggs (washed or unwashed) is they stay fresh longer.

In markets in Baja California Sur eggs can be found mingled with produce and on shelves with dry goods. They aren’t uniform in size or color, like in the U.S. This seems more normal, more natural. Knowing they haven’t had a chemical application gives the impression they are healthier.

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