Okay, so I live in Alaska, where a people tend to be pretty individualistic. I have some friends with chickens and goats and one even has a cow. Cows and horses are hard in Alaska because of the cold weather, but this cow gives good milk.
I’ve never drank this cow’s milk pasteurized. That’s right. I drink raw milk occasionally and I’m still alive.I haven’t even got sick from it. And, I like raw milk so much that I have seriously considered buying a goat. A cow might be a little conspicuous on my town lot, but a nanny goat could be a pet and allowed to mow the lawn, which the neighbors would appreciate since Brad and I can get a little remiss in that area. We might even loan out the goat to mow other people’s lawns. It’s a neighborhood win-win.
Anyway, the subject is actually eggs. According to my friend who — uh, exchanges these eggs for some green paper … the eggs she’s uh, giving me do not have to be refrigerated. I thought that was pretty weird when she said it to me the first time, so I asked “What do you mean! My egg carton says ‘keep refrigerated.'”
I was raised by a farm girl, so I know that eggs left out on the counter will not hatch a chicken, but I sort of thought they’d spoil. She explained to me that if eggs are “unwashed” they don’t need to be refrigerated.
So, I still thought that was weird, so I researched eggs. Yeah, I officially will research anything, I guess.
I learned that in the US, government regulation requires that eggs be washed before commercial sale. Okay, sounds good. You wouldn’t want to pick up any diseases from where that eggs been.
But then I learned that in Europe egg washing is forbidden by law. Now that’s weird. You’d think Europeans wouldn’t want to get sick any more than Americans do.
The FDA explains that they are only saving Americans from horrible diseases.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a regulation expected to prevent each year approximately 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis.
The regulation requires preventive measures during the production of eggs in poultry houses and requires subsequent refrigeration during storage and transportation.
Egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella is a serious public health problem. Infected individuals may suffer mild to severe gastrointestinal illness, short term or chronic arthritis, or even death. Implementing the preventive measures would reduce the number of Salmonella Enteritidis infections from eggs by nearly 60 percent.
Meanwhile, in Europe, the regulators explain that the forbidding of egg washing is only saving people from horrible diseases:
In general, eggs should not be washed or cleaned because such practices can cause damage to the egg shell, which is an effective barrier to bacterial ingress with an array of antimicrobial properties. However, some practices, such as the treatment of eggs with ultra-violet rays, should not be interpreted as constituting a cleaning process. Moreover, Class A eggs should not be washed because of the potential damage to the physical barriers, such as the cuticle, which can occur during or after washing. Such damage may favour trans-shell contamination with bacteria and moisture loss and thereby increase the risk to consumers, particularly if subsequent drying and storage conditions are not optimal.
Who is right? According to a New York Times report, there is a case either way:
But — and here is the big piece of the puzzle — washing the eggs also cleans off a thin, protective cuticle devised by nature to protect bacteria from getting inside the egg in the first place. (The cuticle also helps keep moisture in the egg.) With the cuticle gone, it is essential — and, in the United States, the law — that eggs stay chilled from the moment they are washed until you are ready to cook them.Salmonella outbreaks are more prevalent in large operations where the chickens are kept in close quarters, often in cages stacked on top of one another. Some large-scale producers vaccinate their flocks, but not all. Thus, the one-size-fits-all washing regulation.
My egg entrepreneur friend dries the eggs with a rag, but she doesn’t wash them, so they don’t need to be refrigerated. I still refrigerate them because I’ve been brainwashed by a lifetime of government regulation and commercial practice, but this is something we should be thinking about.
Just like raw milk is only dangerous if cross contaminated by un-sterilized containers and yet has incredible health benefits that we Americans are missing out on, unwashed eggs are only dangerous if you lick raw chicken crap off the shell. My friend recommended that we give the individual eggs a quick bath before we crack them open. She doesn’t do this, but for the squeamish, it helps our mental health.
Government in its infinite bureaucracy always thinks it possesses knowledge of the one and only way to do something and it is so convinced of its wisdom that it is willing to impose its knowledge at the point of a gun. It’s pretty absurd that two governments completely disagree and imposed vastly different ways of going about “protecting” our health.
So, what if governments simply stopped making rules about egg washing? What if we let the market decide how best to handle that.
I can hear my liberal friends stuttering now — “B-b-but people will die!” Really? Why would an egg producer want to poison someone? It would destroy their business because when the news got out, people would stop buying eggs from them. Consumers want the tastiest, cheapest and safest eggs available and producers want to provide them at a profit. That sounds like a marriage made in heaven to me. Trust that I can figure out what is healthy for me or not. The first time I was presented with raw milk, I did a cost benefit analysis. My mother managed to drink raw milk her entire childhood and not die. My friend who owns goats grew up drinking raw goats milk and he’s still living. Didn’t seem all that dangerous to me. And, wow, raw milk … way better than that stuff they sell in the grocery store.
Same with my egg friend. Her family eats unrefrigerated, rag-dried eggs every day and, after nearly 20 years of this habit, they’re all still living. Her eggs are also better-tasting, but that might just be because they’re 3-4 days fresher than what I get at the grocery store. Come to think of it, Mom probably grew up eat unrefrigerated eggs since Granddad’s farm didn’t have electricity, although maybe they put those eggs in the spring house where the milk was chilled. My point is that many of the rules we have today didn’t exist in the 1930s and still don’t exist in other developed countries. Is it possible that they exist simply for the continuation of the administrative state?