Submitted to: Australian Poultry Science Symposium
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2005
Publication Date: 2/20/2006
Citation: Jones, D.R., Musgrove, M.T. 2006. The impact of shell egg processing on food safety. Australian Poultry Science Symposium.18:198-205
Technical Abstract: The microbial quality of shell eggs is affected by many factors such as: hen health, production environment, nutrition, storage conditions, processing conditions, processing facilities, etc. In the United States, the washing of shell eggs for retail sale is a requirement for all product marketed under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grade shield (USDA, 2005). These guidelines state that wash water temperature must be at least 32C or 11C warmer than the warmest egg. Wash water pH must be maintained at pH 10 or greater. Furthermore, a post-wash sanitizing rinse of 100-200 ppm chlorine or its equivalent must be applied. All shell eggs packaged in containers ultimately destined for consumers are required to be maintained (during storage and shipping) at 7C (USDA, 1999). Most of the previously mentioned regulations and guidelines are based on research conducted before the early 1970s. This research focused on egg quality more than food safety. Currently, two federal agencies in the U.S. are drafting and publishing proposed rules focused on ensuring the microbial safety of shell eggs and egg products. There has been an absence of current research examining the role of processing technologies, procedures and equipment on product safety and quality. For this reason, our laboratories began to examine individual aspects of shell egg processing to determine what, if any, changes should be made in order to enhance shell egg food safety in the U.S. We started with a regional survey of the effectiveness of sanitation practices utilized by shell egg processors in the southeastern U.S. We then progressed to examining the changes in microbial quality of shell eggs during prolonged refrigerated storage. Most recently, we have monitored the changes in microbial quality of the shell egg as it progressed through the processing line. An overview of each of these studies will be presented in this talk.