Submitted to: National Egg Quality School Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2003
Publication Date: May 19, 2003
Citation: Musgrove, M.T. 2003. Bringing eggs and food-borne disease into perspective. National Egg Quality School Proceedings. p. 131-138. Technical Abstract: Food Safety is an important concern for developed countries all over the world. While there will always be room for improvement, it is important to remember that the US has one of the safest food supplies ever produced in the history of the world. Numerous advancements in the way our food is produced, harvested, processed, and distributed have contributed to the diminished risk associated with our country's food supply. The food industry is assisted by regulatory agencies and research scientists in maintaining the high standards currently in place. After the Egg Products Inspection Act was passed in 1970, there was a decrease in egg-associated food-borne disease. Processing guidelines for wash water temperature, pH, iron, and sanitizer levels as well as the ban of immersion washing have contributed to dramatic reductions of egg-related food-borne illness. However, in the mid-80s there was an increase in the incidence of outbreaks due to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). A large percentage of those outbreaks were associated with consumption of eggs or foods that contained eggs. In recent years, efforts to diminish egg-borne illness have been bolstered by a "farm to fork" approach. Poultry improvement plans have been developed and implemented by the egg industry. These plans focus on factors during production that can contribute to the contamination of eggs with SE such as rodent populations. Outbreaks of salmonellosis due to SE have decreased from the incidence peak observed in the late 1980s. Since the late 1990s, several surveys have been conducted concerning consumer knowledge/practices of kitchen hygiene and safe food handling/preparation. Data obtained in these studies have lead several food safety organizations, including the World Health Organization, to launch education programs that focus on consumers. This "food chain" approach, that begins at the farm and ends in the home of consumers, may take food safety to the next level in developed countries world-wide.