Pressure is mounting for Coles to move eggs into refrigerated aisles in a move to protect consumers from salmonella, a practice currently rolling out at Woolworths.
Woolworths has pledged to keep eggs in refrigerated cabinets as it continues a nation-wide revamp of its stores.
In order to prevent the spread of the harmful salmonella bacteria, fresh eggs are now being chilled in new cabinets installed at dozens of Woolworths outlets in the past year.
Coles has come under some criticism across social media platforms as it would not disclose if any of its stores would keep eggs refrigerated in response to cases where egg-related incidents lead to hundreds of hospital admissions each year.
According to infectious diseases expert at Australian National University medical school, Professor Peter Collignon, eggs must be treated just like raw meat and kept in a refrigerator at all times.
“I’m always surprised by the lack of anxiety about this. We ought to make the product safer, and we do that by refrigerating it, even at the supermarket,” Collignon said.
Collignon stressed that poor practices at farms, where "dirty eggs" are graded and used when they shouldn't be, combined with poor food-handling practices, particularly in catering or at restaurants, have been the main culprits behind large outbreaks of the food-borne illness.
The salmonella bacteria is spread by birds, usually through faeces, with food safety laws requiring eggs to be washed, inspected for cracks, graded and then kept at cool temperatures at farms and during transport.
But there is no legal requirement to keep eggs in a cool environment at the retail level, and there is no scientific consensus about the need to do so.