Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Naughts and Zeds: Eggs-sell-ent

Naughts and Zeds is an ongoing series of posts on the differences between language, culture, and everyday items in America and in Britain. For a list of previous posts, go here.

Someone linked to this article at the Forbes magazine web site about eggs in American and in England. The title of the article is "Why American Eggs Would Be Illegal In A British Supermarket, And Vice Versa." I had noticed that eggs in British supermarkets are not refrigerated and usually located near the baking aisle. In America, eggs are refrigerated and shelved by dairy products. British eggs are mostly free range--it's hard to find eggs here that aren't. American egg sellers seemingly couldn't care less (perhaps because American consumers don't care either).

The difference in the two systems comes down to legal requirements. American law requires eggs to be washed and sanitized before being sold to consumers. Sounds like that should be better than the British system, right? Except that the washing process removes the cuticle, a natural barrier to bacteria. And if washing water is used for too long there's a risk of contaminating the eggs, which is why Britain and the EU don't require washing. To slow potential bacteria growth, American eggs are refrigerated right after the washing process and all the way to the store. British eggs are kept at room temperature so they will not form condensation if during the trip home, which could lead to bacteria getting onto or into the eggs.

There are lots of more interesting details, go check out the article on the web site. It's a very interesting read.

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