Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/2004
Publication Date: 12/1/2004
Citation: Musgrove, M.T., Jones, D.R., Northcutt, J.K., Curtis, P.A., Anderson, K.E., Fletcher, D.L., Cox Jr, N.A. 2004. Survey of shell egg processing plant sanitation programs: effects on non-egg contact surfaces. Journal of Food Protection. 67:2801-2804. Interpretive Summary: HACCP regulations are being written for the shell egg industry. One of the important prerequisite programs is sanitation operating procedures. Information on bacterial levels (aerobes and Enterobacteriaceae) in the shell egg processing plant environment before and after sanitation procedures performed is missing from the published literature. Nine plants in four states in the Southeastern US were chosen to participate in the study. Fourteen different surfaces not in direct contact with eggs were selected for sampling before and after being cleaned/sanitized. Sanitation procedures had no significant effect on the two populations monitored. However, the populations did not increase either. This information can be used by the shell egg industry as the basis for criteria of cleanliness and sanitation effectiveness as well as by regulatory agencies.
Technical Abstract: In order to successfully implement a HACCP program, pre-requisite programs are essential. Sanitation standard operating procedures, (SSOP) are an important part of such a plan and can reduce contamination levels so that food safety and quality are not adversely affected. Non-contact surfaces can serve as a source of cross contamination in the shell egg processing industry. This study's objective was to assess the efficacy of sanitation programs used in a variety of shell egg processing facilities; in-line, off-line, and mixed operations were included. Fourteen different non-contact surfaces were sampled in nine commercial facilities in the Southeast United States. Non-contact surfaces were defined as those where the shell egg does not come into direct contact with the surface or with the fluid from that surface. Sterile phosphate buffered saline soaked gauze pads were used from sampling at the end of a processing day (POST) and again the next morning prior to operations (PRE). Aerobic populations (APC) and Enterobacteriaceae (VRBG) were enumerated. No significant differences (P > 0.05) were found between POST and PRE counts for either population recovered from the 14 sampling sites. Only samples from the floor under the farm belts, nest run loader, washers and packer heads were reduced by one log10 cfu APC or VRBG / ml rinsate. Counts greater than 104 cfu / ml rinsate were recovered from many samples for APC. Highest APC counts were found on the floor under the farm belt and on nest run cart shelves. High APC counts were found on the wheel surface for off-line carts and on the loading dock floor. Highest counts for VRBG were found on floor samples, drain, and nest run egg cart shelf. A lack of significant difference between POST and PRE counts indicates that current sanitation programs could be improved. Additionally, these data suggest that movement of equipment through the plant should be considered so that cross-contamination is reduced.