Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


the œufs, should I eat them?
November 13, 2008 1:38 PM   Subscribe

What are the differences in production and storage of (chicken) eggs in France versus the United States?

In the United States, all of the eggs that I see for sale at the grocery store are refrigerated. At my local farmers' market, they were at least kept in a cooler. In France, I find eggs on the shelves at room temperature. What are the reasons for these differences?

Also, in the United States, I generally buy eggs from local farmers because of ethical issues with how battery farm chickens are treated (well, that and the eggs taste better). In France, is there the same divide between local producers and battery farms that chop off beaks and confine chickens? Or is it different?

I've tried googling but couldn't find specific answers (I'm sure I'm doing it wrong!).
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
 
There was some discussion of the refrigeration issue here.
posted by grouse at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2008


In the UK eggs aren't kept in the fridge at people's homes either. My American mom came to visit me in the UK and saw that my roommates had left them out and she couldn't get over it. (Despite my pointing out that the roommates were alive and well.)
posted by k8t at 1:49 PM on November 13, 2008


I noticed this too when I moved to the UK (from Canada). The only theory I came up with in my totally non-scientific asking-around opinion poll was that North American refrigerated eggs have longer expiry dates than unrefrigerated European eggs.
posted by iona at 1:54 PM on November 13, 2008


For 2.5 years I lived in Korea and ate non-refrigerated eggs all the time. I am still alive to this day.

Also, as a kid who spent summers on my great grand-parents ranch, I would eat self-gathered unrefrigerated eggs all the time, eggs that hadn't been treated with anything commercial egg farms might treat their eggs with to make them "safer."

So go for it.
posted by Brittanie at 2:21 PM on November 13, 2008


Refrigeration reduces the chances that you will get Salmonella. Essentially, it is uncommon for infected chickens to internally contaminate the egg, but if it does refrigeration drastically reduces the chances that the infection would reach the nutrient rich yolk which would allow the bacteria to multiply quite rapidly.
posted by caddis at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2008


More here on unrefrigerated eggs.
posted by caddis at 2:27 PM on November 13, 2008


From the previously mentioned MeFi thread:

In the US, there are laws mandating that (USDA rated) eggs be washed and sanitized before they are sold. This removes a protective membrane that allows for safe room-temperature storage. In other countries, the membrane is not washed off, which is why they're sold in regular aisles.

Before we start down the "OMG you silly Europeans are ALL GOING TO DIE!" track again. That was highly irksome.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:28 PM on November 13, 2008


At least in New England, the entire poultry industry is thoroughly lousy with salmonella, enough so that there's no chance at all of getting rid of it. I read one time that something like a third of fresh eggs sold in New England were contaminated with salmonella, and for all intents and purposes all chicken meat there should be treated as if it is (which means, cook thoroughly before eating, and thoroughly clean your cutting board after you use it with chicken meat).

Perhaps salmonella isn't as much of a problem in France?
posted by Class Goat at 2:32 PM on November 13, 2008


I don't know, but in Soviet Russia, egg stores you!

For reals though, you can read a little about the EU's (France being a member) position on poultry welfare here. It's certainly one of the more progressive animal welfare systems in the world. Specific information about the "Laying Hen Directive", to be implemented totally in 2012, is here. More interesting info about the Directive here.

When in France, go for eggs marked with a 0. This mandatory marking indicates that they are organic, where a 1 means free range (the next best), 2 means barn (avoid if possible), and 3 means cage (otherwise known as "misery-laid").

The EU strongly regulates this sort of stuff, whereas in America "free range" can mean basically anything, since there is no designated regulatory body (the Department of Agriculture provides no definitions).
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:40 PM on November 13, 2008



Also, in the United States, I generally buy eggs from local farmers because of ethical issues with how battery farm chickens are treated (well, that and the eggs taste better). In France, is there the same divide between local producers and battery farms that chop off beaks and confine chickens? Or is it different?


Yes, in France, there are essentially four categories:

0: "oeuf bio" : eggs from free-range chickens which were also fed at least 90% organic food.

1: "oeufs plein air" : eggs from free-range chickens (not necessarily organic)

2: "oeufs au sol" : eggs from chickens not in cages, but raised exculsively inside a building and usually almost as packed together as if they were in cages.

3: "oeufs de batterie" : eggs from chickens raised in cages.

If you look at the box or directly on the eggs, you'll see a code that looks something like:

3 FR TSE 01

The first digit corresponds to the type of egg. In this case 3 = oeuf de batterie

But you can ignore the numbers and just look for the "BIO" symbol, plus "élevées en plein air" on the box.
posted by helios at 2:40 PM on November 13, 2008


Also, if you buy any food product which contains eggs as an ingredient (such as pasta), then make sure it's marked "BIO" as well, otherwise it's made with "oeufs de batterie".
posted by helios at 2:44 PM on November 13, 2008


Organic egg production.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:51 PM on November 13, 2008


Oh, and in Australia all our eggs are unrefrigerated also. I very rarely hear of warm egg deaths.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:00 PM on November 13, 2008


You may want to look at whether they vaccinate for salmonella in eggs in each country, which I understand is very effective. For example, they dont here in Canada but do in the U.K.
posted by canoehead at 3:40 PM on November 13, 2008


Are you buying the eggs from a store or a market in France? The eggs at the local thrice-weekly fresh food market I frequented while staying in Croissy-sur-Seine were all free range. There are similar markets all over Paris, and in each market town.
posted by goo at 7:32 PM on November 13, 2008


Right now I'm getting overpriced eggs from a bio/organic store. I go to the market but, dunno maybe I chose the wrong market, none of the stuff is really "local" and seems like it is vendors rather than farmers selling it.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 9:25 AM on November 14, 2008


« Older Is it possible to get a reason...   |  Just sent my pigs to the slaug... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.