Action to Improve Farm-to-Table Shell Egg Safety

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The Food and Drug Administration proposed a regulation to further improve the safety of shell eggs on the farm. When implemented, the production changes defined by the regulation will significantly reduce the number of illness caused by eggs contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE).

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An estimated 118,000 illnesses per year are caused by consumption of SE-contaminated eggs. If an individual eats an SE-contaminated egg that is not fully cooked the individual may suffer mild to severe gastrointestinal illness, short term or chronic arthritis, or death.

"The implementation of the provisions of this rule would reduce the number of SE-related illnesses by 33,500 and is a major step in realizing our public health goal of a 50% reduction in all salmonellosis and a 50% reduction in SE outbreaks by 2010," said Acting Commissioner Dr. Lester M. Crawford. "Today's action builds upon the safe consumer handling labeling and egg refrigeration and retail rule of 2000."

The proposed regulation would require implementation of SE prevention measures for all egg producers with 3,000 or more laying hens that produce shell eggs for retail sale and do not process their eggs with a treatment, such as pasteurization, to ensure their safety. The proposed rule's SE prevention measures include:

  • Provisions for procurement of chicks and pullets
  • A biosecurity program
  • A pest and rodent control program
  • Cleaning and disinfection of poultry houses that have had an environmental sample or egg test positive for SE
  • Refrigerated storage of eggs at the farm
  • Producer testing of the environment for SE in poultry houses
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