Aliyah tip #1- understanding eggs (2015 update)
In honor of the new olim coming this summer, I have created a new category with aliyah tips for all the newbies in this fine country. Of course, if you have already made it to this blog and Janglo, you are a step ahead of most people.
Since I was taking about eggs yesterday, I would like to continue the thread with one of the more confusing aspects of grocery shopping in Israel. No, I don’t mean how people think they can put one item in a grocery cart, leave it on line, and then disappear for an hour and do the rest of their shopping. How do they magically know when I am about to shove their cart aside and put my items on the counter to save their spot in the nick of time?
Seriously folks, one of the difficulties I had when I first came was trying to understand how eggs are sold in Israel. For those of you coming from Europe, you are used to non-refrigerated eggs, but Americans and Australians are not. (South Africans- can you let me know?)
Why are some eggs refrigerated and others not? It is because some countries wash their eggs at the sorting station before they are packaged. Since washing the eggs can remove the protective cuticle, the eggs are then coated with a food-grade mineral oil so bacteria cannot penetrate and are kept under refrigeration as a further protection. You can read more about the process here.
In Israel the law states that eggs have to kept under 20C, which is not refrigerated but also not in the middle of the street on a hot summer day.
The other confusing thing about eggs in Israel are the codes and dates stamped on the egg:
The four digit number on the egg (2741) is the code for the sorting station that the egg passed through. All eggs sold in Israel must pass through a sorting station and be stamped. This is where they are inspected for cleanliness and signs of disease. Read yesterday’s post to learn where non-stamped eggs come from.
The first line is the name of the farm where the egg comes from (מן הטבע). This egg has “L” for large and אורגני because it is an organic egg. The first date you see, 02.05 is the last day the egg can be sold, which is 16 days from the sorting date. The second date 01.06, which is 30 days after the first date, is the egg’s expiration date assuming it was stored in the refrigerator. The reason there are two dates is because the eggs are stored in the supermarket at 20C and at home in a refrigerator.
There is currently a reform movement within the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture to change the way eggs are labeled and packaged. The goal is to increase the ability to trace the eggs in the event of a recall and to provide the consumer with more information on the egg as well as safer and more efficient packaging. You can read about the proposal on the Ministry of Agriculture’s web site and see pictures of how other countries label their eggs.
Still confused in the supermarket? Look for future tips on meat and all those white dairy products.
Still have more questions? Ask away! I am happy to tackle any challenge.
2015 update: Since I wrote this post, all eggs that are imported must have a two-letter code stamped on the egg to show what country they are from. According to Misrad HaChaklaut, there are three countries that are currently allowed to import eggs- The Netherlands (NL), Spain (ES),and Turkey (TR). Look for those letters on your egg. If they aren’t there or you see the letters IL, know that your eggs were produced in Israel.