Proposed regs take aim at salmonella in eggs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a regulation last week designed to reduce the incidence of Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs through changes in production practices. At present, consumption of salmonella-contaminated eggs causes an estimated 118,000 illnesses per year. Salmonellosis, which results from eating a contaminated egg that is not fully cooked, can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal distress, short term or chronic arthritis, or even 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 rule applies to 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. Salmonella prevention measures required by the regulation 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—if the environmental test is positive, FDA proposes that egg testing for SE be undertaken, and that, if the test is positive, the eggs be diverted from the table egg market

Identification of a person responsible for SE prevention at each farm

To fully implement this proposed rule will cost an estimated $82 million annually for the more than 4,100 farms that have 3,000 or more hens. The actual cost will vary with the number of poultry houses and layers under production and will range from a low of 19 cents per layer to $1.00 per layer per year.

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