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Storm in an eggcup? Concerns over Coles' handling of eggs

Coles supermarket.
Coles supermarket. David Nielsen

COLES is coming under increasing pressure on social media to move their eggs off warm shelves to protect customers from salmonella.

Rival Woolworths has confirmed that as part of a nationwide update of their stores, eggs will be kept in refrigerated cabinets.

However, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand spokesperson Saffron Urbaniak said there no food safety reason to require whole eggs to be refrigerated.

"Retailers may choose to refrigerate eggs for their own reasons, such as to maintain a quality of the egg, such as the firmness of the yolk," she said.

"Unlike many other countries, the types of salmonella that can contaminate the inside of eggs as they are formed in the bird are not present in Australian laying flock," she said.

While eggs bought off the shelf pose no food safety risk, to enhance the quality of the egg, Ms Urbaniak said consumers should keep eggs refrigerated in the cardboard box they are purchased in.

A thorough risk assessment of egg production and processing in Australia by the FSANZ concluded that the refrigeration of eggs is not a legal requirement at the retail level.

In order for an egg to be infected with salmonella, it must cross the physical barriers of the shell and membranes, and survive the hostile conditions of the egg white before it can enter the yolk and grow.

Ms Urbaniak said the temperature of eggs along the supply chain affects the rate at which the protective membranes within the egg degrade

"The time eggs spend on the retail shelf is often short compared with the time between being laid through to consumption," she said.

"Due to the nature of egg contamination in Australia, refrigeration of eggs at retail is considered to have a small impact on the overall risk of illness.

Salmonella can be spread by birds, usually from faeces, which is why food law requires eggs to be washed and inspected for cracks to kill any bacteria.

Topics:  coles, eggs, salmonella




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