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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Egg and Poultry Production Safety Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365909

Research Project: Evaluation of Management of Laying Hens and Housing Systems to Control Salmonella and Other Pathogenic Infections, Egg Contamination, and Product Quality

Location: Egg and Poultry Production Safety Research Unit

Title: Egg carton and eggshell: is there a possibility of Salmonella cross-contamination

item REGMI, PRAFULLA - Purdue University
item Jones, Deana
item Gast, Richard
item Guraya, Rupinder - Rupa
item KARCHER, DARRIN - Purdue University

Submitted to: Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/19/2021
Publication Date: 8/13/2021
Citation: Regmi, P., Jones, D.R., Gast, R.K., Guraya, R., Karcher, D. 2021. Egg carton and eggshell: is there a possibility of Salmonella cross-contamination. Applied Poultry Research. 30:100185.

Interpretive Summary: Consumers and backyard egg producers often choose to re-use egg cartons. The potential of pathogen transfer during carton re-use is risky. A study was conducted to determine if Salmonella Enteritidis could be transferred during egg carton re-use. Plastic, polysterene foam, and pulp egg cartons were utilized in the study. Either the eggs placed in the cartons or the wells of the cartons were inoculated to determine if Salmonella transfer would occur. Eggs and cartons were stored at both refrigerated and room temperature. The results of the study show that Salmonella Enteritidis can be transferred during the re-use of egg cartons.

Technical Abstract: Producers and consumers often associated with small scale backyard egg production tend to re-use egg cartons. Egg cartons are also re-used for arts and craft projects. The ability of zoonotic bacteria like Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) to survive in eggshell surface and variety of food packaging materials potentially make the re-use of egg carton risky. This study was aimed at determining the scope of cross-contamination of SE between eggshell and common egg carton types. In Experiment 1, unwashed eggs from end-of-lay white Leghorn hens were inoculated with 10 'L of SE inoculum of two different SE strains and placed in non-adjacent wells of uninoculated plastic, polysterene foam, and pulp egg cartons. Four egg cartons of each type were then stored either at refrigeration or room temperature. After 24 h eggs were discarded and the carton-wells were swabbed for SE recovery. In Experiment 2, wells of egg cartons were inoculated with SE and uninoculated eggs were placed on them and stored similar to Experiment 1 and eggshell samples were collected for SE recovery. Only 3 samples were detected positive for SE in Experiment 1 and no effect of carton type, SE strain, or incubation temperature was observed. In Experiment 2, 8 eggshell samples were SE positive – 6 from polystyrene foam and 2 from plastic carton. Statistical difference was observed for pulp versus polystyrene foam only (P < 0.05). These results indicate that transfer of SE between egg carton and eggshell surface is possible and that the risk of cross-contamination is associated with type of carton material.