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New Safety Rules For Shell Eggs

Eggs are nutritious and healthy. However, clean and unbroken shell eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) bacteria. The bacterial contamination of egg has become a serious health problem – resulting in 79,000 illnesses and 30 deaths each year. The new rule by Food and Drug Administration, which was finalized on July 7, can cut down the bacterial infection by 60 percent.

Eggs contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria cause short term or chronic arthritis, mild to severe gastrointestinal problems or even death. The new rule requires the egg industry to take preventive measures against the SE bacteria during production of eggs and refrigeration of eggs.

The new rule is to be adopted by all egg producers having 3000 or more laying hens — whose eggs have not been subjected to treatment such as pasteurization. Producers having laying hens more than 3000 and less than 50,000 must adopt this rule within 36 months of the rule’s publication. Producers having more than 50,000 hens must comply with this rule within 12 months after the rule’s publication in federal register.

According to the rule:

  • Chicks and young hens should be bought only from suppliers who monitor for Salmonella bacteria
  • The producers should take up pest, rodent control, and biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of bacteria through people and equipment
  • Salmonella Enteritidis testing should be conducted in the poultry house. If the tests are positive, a sample of eggs should be tested for 8 weeks. (4 tests are to be conducted in 2 week intervals). If the 4 eggs are found to be contaminated, steps should be taken to destroy the bacteria in the eggs or the eggs should be diverted for non-food use
  • If the poultry houses are tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis, the poultry houses should be cleaned and disinfected
  • The eggs should be refrigerated at 45 degree Fahrenheit during storage and transportation, within 36 hours after the eggs are laid

Egg producers who subject the eggs to pasteurization should follow the refrigeration requirements. People holding or transporting shell eggs – such as packers, truckers, distributors should also follow the refrigeration requirement

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